Praying With Pain: Thoughts From Spiritual Direction
The human body is fragile, and when we are injured or sick, we struggle with pain. Whether we may be experiencing acute pain or chronic pain it affects us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Let me be clear, pain is not good; it’s not a blessing. Pain is terrible. If you are suffering physical pain, as a disciple seeking to follow God, you can assume that the pain is not from God and God is not punishing you. It’s the evil one who wants you to believe that God is punishing you with this pain, and the evil one will look for any opportunity to use your pain to discourage you and separate you from God.
But God is a redeemer and always seeks to bring good out of evil. God wants to use your pain for good. So how can God be at work in and through your pain? Here are some thoughts:
If you are in pain tell God about it. Pour out your heart to him; express your emotion. You may even find you are angry with God about this pain. It’s fine to be angry with God. God already knows and invites you to tell him. Tell him and then listen, have a dialogue with God. See what happens. By your conversation, you will be connecting with God in the midst of pain. The evil one hates that.
Pray for healing. Bring your need before God. Experience your need for God and cry out to him. God does not always heal, but you are encouraged to pray for healing and to see what healing he brings. If the Lord does heal you, receive it as a gift and give him praise.
This is a bit mystical, but you can ask Jesus to take your pain and merge it with the pain he felt on the cross, to let your pain become a sharing in his pain on the cross. Now your pain connects you even more deeply with Jesus.
You may find that in your pain you have been struggling to pray. You may have gone many days without having your regular prayer time. Maybe it’s been a whole week since your last prayers... wonderful! Now we get to ask... Does God love you less? Of course not! You may be disappointed or ashamed of your lack of prayer, but God is not disappointed in you. You have an opportunity to know that God does not love you for your performance. You have not been praying and still, God is loving you.
Having a life of prayer is hard. Life happens and the realities of our lives make prayer difficult. The evil one would want you to give up. Instead, pick up your prayer again as you are able. In the midst of your pain, would you rather be close to him and experience his love or be distant and feel unloved?
Let God lead you. These are a few suggestions, but God at work in you knows what you need. God is very present to you and knows what you are suffering. Open yourself and let God meet you, let God speak the words you need to hear, to be present to you and to show you love. Let God reveal how he will use this experience of pain to lead you closer to him.
© Dale Gish 2019. All Rights Reserved.