Does suffering drive you to pray?

When we experience pain and suffering, many turn away from God. But the Christian should do the  opposite when in trouble: he should cling closer to God than ever before.


One of the ways that this increased intimacy with God is displayed is by the Christian becoming more prayerful.


Jesus is described as a man of prayer. In part, because of his suffering. The author of Hebrews says about Christ: ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission’ (Hebrews 5:7). And naturally Christians have always followed in his footsteps. When distressed, they cry out to their Father too.


The book of Psalms also demonstrates the constant prayers of the suffering believer. For example, Psalm 55 says: ‘Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest– I would flee far away and stay in the desert; Selah I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Day and night they prowl about on its walls; malice and abuse are within it. Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets. If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them–men who never change their ways and have no fear of God. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.’


Did you see how often the Psalmist says he prays to God: Evening, morning and noon. His prayers are frequent because his anguish is frequent.


So when you suffer, do you realise the benefit of being driven to pray more. God is using suffering to draw you closer to him, and that’s always a good thing.


Joel Radford.