How To Pray For Your Brokenhearted Friend

We’ve all been there-someone we love receives a terminal diagnosis, someone we care about loses a family member, her husband walks away from their marriage of twenty years, his addicted child hasn’t made contact in months.

The list is endless.

This life is hard and broken hearts abound.

What to do?

I’ve written extensively about the many practical ways a friend or family member can reach out and walk beside a wounded heart.

Choosing to offer compassionate companionship is the greatest gift you can give.

But there is another way you can help.  You can carry the one you love to the Throne of Grace and intercede on his or her behalf with the One Who can be there when you just can’t.

I’ve learned the hard way that many situations are not fixable.  They are only bearable.  And because we so often pray for blessings and miracles, when faced with this reality, words tend to fail us.

But there are prayers to pray for the brokenhearted.

Pray for God’s Presence. 

Father God, alone and broken is too much for anyone to bear.  I know you are right beside my friend, but give her assurance of Your Presence.  Let this wounded heart feel You very near her.  When she despairs that You are not listening, bring to mind Your Word and flood her with Your comfort.

Pray for the presence of God’s people. 

Lord, You don’t need people to do Your work, but you have ordained that the work of Your Body will be done by the hands of men.  Stir the hearts of those that follow Jesus to show up and bring practical help to this broken heart.  Give divine guidance to the people You want to be there so that they do things, bring things and say things that bless and do not harm.  May this abundant outpouring of love, grace and mercy give strength to a struggling heart.

Pray for grace.

Father, we so often think of grace as what You give us when we receive salvation.  But grace is so much more than that-it is the oil that lubricates the gears of life.  It’s what gives us the space we need to process offense, to overlook offense and to avoid offense.  My friend is wounded and oh, so vulnerable.  Overwhelm his heart with Your grace so that the unthinking and even unkind words or actions of others will not hurt him more.  Suffuse every single relationship that is being strained and stretched by this hard season with grace so that it remains supple and does not break. Fill the hearts of those who come to minister with grace to endure his silence or their rebuffed attempts to help.  Keep relationships alive and intact, even in this difficult time.

Pray for mercy.

Oh, Lord!  How well I know that one tragedy or unbearable hardship does not preclude another on its heels!  I beg mercy for this family!  Pour mercy out on them and in them and prevent any schemes of the evil one to succeed.  They are so, so weak and such easy targets!  Let Your mercy surround and protect them.

Pray for strength.

Father, “weak” can’t begin to describe the crumbling of a spirit under the crushing load of grief.  If You do not raise the head of my friend, she will not be able to raise it herself.  If you do not infuse her body with Your strength, she will not be able to make it through this valley.  You have promised that if we wait on You-expectantly and hopefully and trustingly-that You will give us strength as eagles.  We will run and not be weary, we will walk and not faint  You are the Everlasting God.  You are the Source of Strength.  Fill my friend with Your strength as You have promised.

Pray for faith. 

Lord, there is a space where faith and experience conflict.  Losing a child creates a gulf between what a heart wants to believe and has believed and the unbearable pain that fills it right now  Help my friend’s heart hold onto the hem of Your garment.  Give him the will and conviction to say, “I believe, help Thou my unbelief!”  Bring those who love You alongside to bear witness to this crisis of faith without correcting or shaming.  Send Your Holy Spirit in power to flood this hurting heart with an assurance of Your Presence and power.

Pray for courage. 

Father God, one of Your great champions, C.S. Lewis wrote, “No one ever told me grief felt so like fear.”  He was right.  Grief feels like the most profound fear a heart can experience.  The entire world has shifted.  The bottom has fallen out.  It seems there is no end to the pain and suffering that a person may have to endure.  And it is scary-so, so scary.  Let my friend join the Psalmist in declaring, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46: 1,2 NIV) You are the unchanging constant Truth in a world where everything else seems untrustworthy.  

Pray for perseverance.

Lord, it’s easy to start well but something else again to finish well.  When a heart realizes that this missing, this sorrow and this pain is going to be with it for all the days of life on earth, that’s a whole other burden to bear.  Defeat seems imminent.  How can someone possibly carry this for years-perhaps decades?  Give my friend the commitment and strength to persevere.  Help her wake each day and decide to keep on keeping on.  Infuse her tired body, mind and spirit with the power You have promised to give to all who love you:  the power that raised Jesus from the grave (Ephesians 1:19,20).

Pray for love.

Father God, a broken heart is open and ready for filling.  And it will be filled with something.  It will be filled with love or it will be filled with bitterness.  Overwhelm my friend with Your grace, mercy and love so that all the spaces are filled to overflowing with You and there is no room for bitterness.  Bind the work of the enemy so that no scheme formed against him can stand.  Give him a heart of flesh-that even hurting, even broken-he can give and receive love.  Because love lives forever.

Amen.

hope holds a breaking heart together

The Prayer of the Average and Broken

I am so thankful for my children.

While I was the teacher for their early years, they are now teaching me.

fiona and cash at home (2)

From my daughter, Fiona:

It’s tempting to look at someone doing a hard thing (like foster care) or living out a hard truth (like child loss) and label them as “special”, “brave”, “extraordinary”, or “chosen by God for a big purpose”.

I get it.

Those things ARE hard and downright terrifying… and a lot of days the sacrifice weighs heavier than the reward (in this life).

But as long as we relegate Christ-like love and endurance to the “chosen few”, we excuse ourselves from walking the hard (and often lonely) sacrificial path God has called each of His children to.

“On earth as it is in Heaven” is not the prayer of the brave, it’s the prayer of the average & broken who know that they are not extraordinary but dependent; who know that there is no formula for this life that will keep you & your loved ones safe this side of Heaven; who have decided that they are not content to simply get their own selves or families safely to shore.

Only you know in your heart what your kingdom work is on this earth and only you can decide if you will do it.

Every single one of us is weak and tired and ordinary and lacking “ideal” circumstances and timing and resources.

God doesn’t ask us to be “special”, He asks us to be obedient with no guarantee of earthly rewards or success.

You are one of the ordinary people loved by an extraordinary God.

“Brave, special, extraordinary, sacrificial, & compassionate” are not the calling.

They are characteristics of regular folks forged in the fire of immense challenges who start by saying a scared “yes” to our broken world’s screams for help. 

used everything up

Practice the Pause

Oh, how I need to learn to practice the pause!

I’m getting better, but still react when I should reflect.

I need to do this EVERY time.

practice the pause toby mack

 

Lord, help my stubborn heart slow down and give me grace to yield and allow You to melt it, mold it and make it more like Your own! ~ ❤

 

heart stone

Here’s a Hug

We ALL have bad days, fears, struggles and lonely moments.  Sometimes we just need to know someone cares.  Sometimes we just need a hug.

For those who are struggling today-here’s a hug.

hug laughing

For those who think they are unworthy of the breath they breathe and the space they occupy-here’s a hug.

hug mom and child

For those who are afraid that today won’t be any better than yesterday or the day before-here’s a hug.

hug boy and dog huffington post

For those who have absolutely no idea how they will survive the next five minutes, much less the next five hours-here’s a hug.

group hug huffington post

You are NOT invisible.  You are NOT worthless.  You are NOT unloved.

The God of the universe loves you.

He sees you.

He’s waiting for you and longs to shower you with grace and mercy. 

god is always listening

 

Prayer Requests and a Pounding Heart

It’s what we do when we get together at church-in Sunday School or Wednesday night Prayer Meeting-we take prayer requests.

It’s what we should do.

We are commanded to pray for one another.

pray for one another

I listen attentively, take notes, try to get the names spelled correctly-I’m the one who types the list for the weekly bulletin so I want to get it right.

Until...someone shares a request that sends my mind down a winding path of memory. My heart begins to beat the rapid tap-tap-tap warning of mounting anxiety.  Death has come to another family’s door or is stalking them around the corner.

Some parent will stand by the casket of the child they bore and wonder how in the world they outlived their offspring.  

And while I try to pray faithfully for all the requests shared, this one lodges in my throat and will not be ignored.

My heart is broken as theirs breaks.  I know only God can hold it together.

I breathe a prayer in:  “God grant them strength, grant them mercy, grant them grace.”

I breathe a prayer out:  “Jesus, Shepherd, carry them in Your arms.  Don’t let their faith fail.”

out of the depths i cry for you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Dare Hope

My prayer list is very short.  It’s been whittled down to the basics.  I don’t ask for much and I expect less.

But today I will be waiting with bated breath to find out if a prayer that’s been lifted up for months will be answered.

It’s risky business to ask when the answer may be “no”.  If I’m honest, I’m not sure my heart can take it.

I am confident that I will see Dominic in heaven when I get there.  My heart rests assured that the blood of Christ is sufficient and my salvation sure.

BUT….

I do not dare hope anymore that when I pray specifically for someone or something it will come to pass.  Oh, I believe God HEARS my prayer, that He knows the desire of my heart, that He COULD grant my request.  But I no longer rest my head on the pillow of peace, settled in my spirit that the “effectual fervent prayers  of a righteous man or woman availeth much.”

I will be the first to admit that to hold both thoughts simultaneously seems impossible and contradictory.  Yet I do.

Because I’ve learned the hard way that my prayers are not God’s “to do” list.  He is sovereign, not me.  His plans may or may not conform to mine.  His work in my life may very well include pain and sorrow and disappointment.

Sometimes I just want that old naive hope back.  I want to erase this dark knowledge from my heart.

Especially when someone I love needs my prayers.

I want to believe.  I want to trust.  I want to rest assured that not only is my prayer heard, but that it will be granted.  But it is oh, so hard!!!!

So I offer the only prayer I can still lift up with absolute confidence:  I plead mercy and grace.

I pray that God may have mercy on my fragile spirit, that He may grant my desire and strengthen my faith.  And I pray that regardless of the outcome, He will give me the grace to accept it.

It’s the best I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

David and Goliath

Today is 35 months-almost three years since I was awakened to the news no parent wants to hear.

And, yes, I still count the months.

Every 12th rolls around and reminds me that while Dominic’s leaving was an event on the calendar to others, it is an ongoing experience for me and my family.

I don’t say this for pity’s sake.

Pity is a poor substitute for what I really want:  I want my son back; my family whole; my world unshattered and unshaken; my biggest problem to be how to get all my grown children together at the same place at the same time for holidays.

I can’t have what I really want.

So I hold on to what I have-the Truth that every promise of God in Christ is “yes” and “amen”.  And the memories-I hold onto the memories.

I have the first Bible we ever gave Dominic.  

It endured rough use-the corners chewed on, the pages bent and the covers full of creases where they’ve been folded back and forth.

We chose it because it is one of those children’s Bibles with pictures inserted every so often-old fashioned images taken from paintings no longer guarded by copyright or trusts.

His very favorite page was the illustration of David and Goliath-his most treasured story and his most requested reading.

We even had a “David and Goliath” themed birthday party way before Pinterest.  

I made a life-sized version of Goliath and hung him on the wall so the boys could stand next to it for a photo.

I was recently reminded of these memories when a video made it’s rounds on Facebook (you can watch it here ).

It’s easy to focus on the fact that David’s stone slew the giant.  But what my heart holds onto are David’s words, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (I Samuel 17:47)

not-to-us-but-for-your-glory-and-name

David had little confidence in his own strength. He wasn’t certain that his skill in slinging rocks was what guaranteed victory.  No.  He was absolutely convinced that Jehovah would not allow His Name to be sullied.  He rested in the fact of God’s faithful covenantal love.

He bet his life on it.

If you read the Old Testament you will find example after example of God’s people begging Him for mercy-not because they deserve it-but because it reflects the truth of Who He is.

Abraham leads Isaac up the mountain and tells his servant, “We will return”.

Why?

Because he trusted that God’s promises were true, that God could not and would not lie.

Moses begs God to give the Israelites another chance because if they perished, it would desecrate His Name.

Daniel asks God to remember His covenant, not for the sake of the people, but for the sake of His reputation.

On and on and on.

So in this Valley of the Shadow of Death, I don’t beg for mercy and grace because I think  I DESERVE it.

I beg for mercy and grace because the character of God guarantees it.

God will finish what He started-not for me but for His kingdom.

His faithful love endures forever not because I am worthy but because He has claimed me for His own.

He will not allow His Name to be defamed.

I bet my life on it.