by Robin Alcala

Have you ever associated pain with prayer?  Have you ever been afraid to pray?  Has unanswered prayer left you disappointed at the very least, or being devastated at the very most? Doesn’t it appear like there are prayers that don’t seem to get past this side of heaven?  Sometimes when endeavoring to move in closer to the Answerer of our prayers, disappointment can sometimes be like the doggy who’s been trained to associate the invisible fence’s sting, it is a pain which stops you in your tracks and reminds you that you don’t want to do that again.  The conversation in your head echoes, “Don’t ever try going there again! Why should you pray, only to be disappointed one more time?”  There’s a feeling of sadness, utter displeasure when our hopes and expectations go unfulfilled.  Disappointment can be very painful.

I am recalling one of the saddest statements I heard from a fellow teenager and co-worker many years ago.  I was encouraging him to pray to a God that absolutely and unconditionally loved him.  I will never forget the pain in his eyes and the hopelessness in his demeanor when he replied, “I don’t pray and I don’t believe for anything, because then I can’t be disappointed.”  I was Ms. Optimist, so I found those words absolutely baffling, yet his evident pain spoke volumes.

I often pondered those words since that day.  Then one day after life had just been too hard, way too long, I found that those deeply sad words were actually beginning to make a lot more sense to me.  My personal cheerleader within myself wasn’t feeling too cheery or bouncy.  I had done enough backflips for everybody in my life, and bounced back from plenty of disappointments and heartache, that I was finding myself seriously considering his words.  And unfortunately with a deepened understanding, more than I previously thought I ever could.

Anything that we associate with pain, is going to zap us and bring recall of why we don’t want to touch it it or go near it again.  Some have been zapped too often with the pain of disappointment of unanswered prayers.  I am not talking merely of those that have prayed occasionally, but primarily to the other prayer warriors like myself.  Those that know how to storm the heavens and forcibly grab from the unseen realm and bring heaven to earth in a situation or for someone else.   Those that have spiritually limped out of their prayer closet time and time again, because they refused to accept no for an answer. 

Sometimes, a seemingly no response from heaven is our answer.  We earthlings, only see a snapshot, while heaven has an aerial view.  You must be willing to surrender your trust once again to your Creator and reminding yourself that, “The secret things belong to the Lord.”  Believing His word that, “He will never leave you nor abandon you.”  Since, “The tests in your life are no different from what others experience. And because God is faithful, He will not allow the trials to be more than you can handle. When you are challenged, He will show you a way out so that you can bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)

Here lies the importance of you truly knowing your God.  When you go through difficulties and challenges with someone you truly know, it is so much different than if you had to experience it with a complete stranger or mere acquaintance, isn’t it?  Recently and unfortunately, the great state of Texas has faced the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.  Those that are facing this horrendous historical catastrophe with someone they know versus being completely alone or with fellow Texans that they don’t know, are probably sensing a little more security and comfort than others. 

When you have unfortunate life happenings, and if you have an intimate knowledge of God compared to just hear say knowledge of a Deity that you may not be too familiar with, there will be a peace that will transcend your present emotional chaos.  You must purposefully choose that whatever you face, regardless of what you sense, that you are never facing it alone.  Also, you must never ever doubt the Maker of your heart, nor His undying love for you.  Nothing will ever separate you from His love or His loving care.  Nor should you permit yourself to create that great divide.

You must ask yourself, “Is it more painful, to not pray because of the fear of disappointment and receive absolutely nothing? Or to surrender your trust once again and venture into the realm of endless possibilities within the power of prayer?  If God’s word says that “The prayer of a righteous person avails much”, then it does.  Since God’s word declares that, “Nothing is impossible to the one who believes”, then it must be so.

Let’s not shrink back from the One who not only holds the world in His hands, but He also holds every tear you have ever shed in a bottle.  Let’s dare to conquer the fear of disappointment head on with courage, because we will definitely, “Have not, if we ask not”.  While never forgetting that, “God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.” (Psalm 34:7)