When I am overwhelmed, the path ahead seems long, unending. It presses in and I am alone. And yet I am not. Not really. Not ever. As I begin to form simple words, halting prayer words, I know—even if I don't immediately feel—that God is with me.
Over the last ten years or so I have been learning new prayer rhythms that take me into His presence. They help me to talk with Him, listen, notice . . . and be transformed. That is what I most long for.
I'd like to share with you a prayer practice that can be used (or adapted) to come away with the Lord in times when our hearts are overwhelmed. It's one that is, in great part, inspired by Hannah's example in First Samuel.
This woman of prayer generally inspires me. I see in her a depth and realness in her relationship with God. It was natural for her to turn to Him in prayer in her distress and to do so with full honesty. She cried out to Him.
We can too—with our failures, brokenness, sorrow, longings, or our overwhelmed hearts. As we do, we are invited into new, deeper places with God as well as hope of moving into new places with our lives.
Grounding in Discernment
You may already be aware of a great heaviness or longing or you may begin this time of prayer by asking God to reveal the barren places of your life that need His presence and His healing or filling.
Establish your time of prayer with God in grounded discernment by reading Scripture prayerfully. You might begin with Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel, the first chapter and a half, or turn to Psalm 61.
Next bring all your thoughts and concerns to God, including emotions. If it would help, jot these down as a list or journal about them honestly. As you do, make your requests known to Him. He hears and cares.
Listening and Noticing
Listen for what He wants you to know about the ways in which He is with you all the time and specifically right now in your need.
Listen for His invitations. What is He inviting you into that is new or different than before? (A friend shared with me that God invited her into joy, even without knowing how He might answer her requests in her dark season.)
Leaning Into Trust
Move into expressing words of trust in God’s presence and hand in your life. If you are trusting, your prayer can be one of gratefulness. If you are struggling with trust, ask Him to show you one small step of trust.
Just as Hannah offered her son to the Lord, the answer to her prayer, entrust the answers to your cries to Him. Offer all of who you are into His care and into His shaping of how he might powerfully transform or use your life.
Thank God for how He will work and bless you through His answer to your prayers—even now as you wait for His answer. This can be a time of worship and song, if you are led, or of simple expressions of gratitude.
Recognizing and Honoring His Gifts
Acknowledge what God has shown you through this time of prayer. Even if it seems you’ve only caught a glimpse of a tiny nugget, know it is a gift that God will use to encourage or strengthen you in some way now and in the coming days.
If you have Scriptures or ways that God has taken you through times of sorrow, longing, brokenness, or failure, please feel free to share. He works both commonly and uniquely. We can learn and be encouraged as a community here by you.