Praying When the Heart Is Breaking

There are times when prayer seems to bubble up naturally. We have no difficulty thanking and praising God when everything seems to be going our way. Think of the young man or woman clutching a sheaf of  brilliant examination results and exclaiming, ‘Thank you, God, thank you!’ Such prayer can be little more than a prayer of self-congratulation. Equally, when in a tight corner, what I call the prayer of last resort often seems to escape lips more accustomed to use the holy name of God as an expletive than as prayer. But what of prayer when we are numb with fear and pain, or when grief consumes us utterly? I think that is when we learn a new and deeper way of praying. Our whole being becomes prayer — wordless, apparently powerless, stripped of anything that could give comfort or consolation. It is the kind of prayer that goes straight to the heart of God because it is the prayer of Christ in us: the prayer of Christ on the Cross, of our dying Saviour. Do not despise such prayer, should it be the kind you are called to offer. It is when our own hearts are breaking that God seems to hold us closest; and we know he will never let us go.

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