8 Ways to Pray in Troubling Times

by James Harvey  |  April 28, 2020

This was one of the most troubling and discouraging times of my ministry career that I will never forget.

I was a church planter in Tennessee working hard to reach the lost and start new groups. I went into the office for my annual review with my supervisor, and he had written “FAILURE” in giant red marker over every page of my report. Then, he gave me the impossible assignment of planting three new churches in three months or lose my job.

I was devastated emotionally and went home and cried with my wife. I agonized over the “why?” What did I do wrong? How could this happen to me? But the Holy Spirit was there to comfort me and reveal that Jesus was closing the door to this career in a way that I would know His will. He also said that he was opening a new door of ministry and that I would know my next steps soon. Shortly after I resigned from my old job, God called me to launch my own nonprofit, and I am more fulfilled now in my calling than ever before.

The Widow and the Oil

Have you heard the story of the widow who fed the prophet Elijah during a devastating drought? God tested her with an impossible decision. God sent Elijah to this widow’s home when she was starving, and she only had enough flour and oil for one last meal with her son. Elijah asked her to feed him her last meal by faith, and then God would reward her by feeding her family for the rest of the drought. What did she do?

“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” (1 Kings 17:15 NIV) 

Later, her son died. Heartbroken with unimaginable grief, she accused Elijah of his death. But God gave Elijah power to raise her son back to life, and she said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.” (1 Kings 17:24, NIV) 

The Fragility of Life

We are like this widow. We face troubling times and emotional pain throughout our lifetimes. We are not always strong, and our faith is fragile in suffering. We become afflicted, we witness loved ones perish, and we grow weary in spiritual warfare. Our responses to God in these troubling times include worry, fear, anxiety, frustration, doubt, and even anger. 

Whenever we experience troubling times, we are tempted to give up.

"Suffering is God’s pathway for us to determine whether our faith is grounded in God as our Creator and Savior or in what he does for us." [Tweet This

As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we can learn to pray with faith, holding onto God’s promises to rescue us in the midst of trouble, and to believe in our hearts that he will never leave or forsake us.

Prayer and Application

Listen to Hosea pray for restoration during troubling times in his generation, “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in His presence. Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” (Hosea 6:1-3 NLT) 

As you live and lead your church, here's how to pray in troubling times:

  1. Begin with worship. I can praise God in every season.
  2. Remember His covenant names: Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Provider…
  3. Count my blessings, name them one by one.
  4. Search the Scriptures for stories where God rescued His people in trouble.
  5. Confess my worries. Petition him for my needs.
  6. Quiet my heart. Listen to His voice. Receive His revelation.
  7. Trust him to do whatever is best. Surrender my future to His sovereign care.
  8. Call a friend and pray for one another.

We’d love to hear from you. Please post below the ways that you pray and live in troubling times, and please generously share this list with your church as a point of strength and encouragement!  

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In Spring 2019, our founder, Patrick Johnson, was nudged by the Holy Spirit toward the essential nature of intentional prayer rhythms to igniting and sustaining generosity movements. And we’ve come to realize how a network of prayer warriors should be a primary focus of our ministry.

GenerousChurch Contenders are a global family of praying, disciple-making leaders who agree to move forward with fasting, worshipping and contending through prayer to ask God to move for Christian stewardship and generosity.

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