For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you shall call upon Me, and you shall come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek Me and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
The day was thankfully over and I could crawl into the warmth and comfort of my bed. The sound of the rain tapping at the window soothed me as I prayed. “Dear Father, I can’t do another day of this. I am too sick. I am too weak. I am too frightened. Please heal me,” I prayed. I dozed off into a fitful sleep. The morning arrived in the symphony of birds celebrating the new day. I opened my eyes, still sick, still weak, still frightened. I sighed. “Do you even hear me God?” I wondered out loud.
I prayed for healing from benzo withdrawal every night for countless months that turned into years. I anguished as it felt as if God had abandoned me at my time of need. I felt despair. I almost stopped praying to Him, for it seemed to do no good. But… I continued, with a sliver of faith, that He was in control.
Have you ever had a time in your life when you prayed and it felt as if God wasn’t listening? Did you feel despair too? It is hard to continue to pray when we either feel our prayers are not being answered at all, or we don’t get the answer we want. Yet that is what we should continue to do; keep praying. There is power in prayer.
Even though I wasn’t healed in the way I expected or in the timeframe I wanted, I was healed in a much deeper, more powerful way. God had heard my prayers after all, and He knew what was best for me. Prayer is powerful! Not only will God answer our prayers for our highest and best, the act of praying itself, deepens us and changes us. There is a new field of study called “neurotheology,” and it is proving that prayer reshapes our brains for the better. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of several books, including How God Changes Your Brain. He has studied the brains of religious people for over a decade. It has been shown that people who pray daily, with attention and focus, have better brains and healthier bodies. (A person who prays for 30 minutes a day has more antibodies to the flu virus, for example.)
It is human nature to give up when things are not going our way. We like to avoid pain and frustration so we stop praying when it feels as if God isn’t listening. I encourage you to keep praying. Trust that God has plans for you. He will listen to you. Search for Him with your whole heart, and you will find Him. Be patient. Allow God to work in His way, in His time. I’m glad I didn’t give up my nightly prayers for healing. I had nothing short of a supernatural answer to my prayer; a shocking transformation of my soul that delights me everyday. I believe in the power of prayer.
Remember to say thank you, as Jesus did. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me.” (John 11:42) Say thank you and trust that God heard you and all is well.
F.R.O.G. Practice: Today, spend 30 minutes in prayer. Focus on love and compassion for others and yourself, allowing yourself to feel the feelings wash over you. What does it feel like afterwards?