By Rachel Baker, Crosswalk.com
Few step into ministry with the intent or hope of experiencing extreme difficulty. However, if you serve in ministry—whether vocationally or as a volunteer—there is a high likelihood that at one point or another you’ll have trouble in your ministry role. Difficulty can come to us in many different forms, from relational or congregational strife to the death of a member of the church or community in which you serve, and everything in between.
None of us are immune to suffering and pain, and odds are, that when serving faithfully you’ll rub up against these dark nights of the soul more frequently than you’d anticipated. In our own ministry, my husband and I, have walked families through the loss of a child, we’ve sat with friends and wept while their marriages crumbled, we’ve comforted men and women who have experienced trauma, abuse, and PTSD. We’ve learned that you don’t sit with the suffering and walk away unscathed.
As the Apostle Paul writes to the church of Galatia, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” —Galatians 6:2
In ministry, we too, carry the burdens of others. Additionally, we—being human—will experience burdens and difficulties in our own personal lives. When these seasons of strife are upon us, we must be prepared to allow God to hold what we cannot, and most likely should not. In order to do this well, we must develop a habit of surrendering our own brokenness to the Father through a healthy prayer life.
If you are in a season of difficulty here are five prayers to offer heavenward. Let these become a lament, a war cry, and perhaps even a song of praise.
Prayer for Endurance
"For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." —Hebrews 10:36
Lord, I am tired. I feel defeated and discouraged. I so desperately need rest, but not the rest of this world, the rest that only you can provide. Lord Jesus, will you please draw me into your rest? Will you bind and repair what is broken within me? Will you heal me and restore me? Great is your faithfulness, great is your healing power, great are you in all ways. Replenish me, Lord. Let me return to service you, your people, your church with energy and endurance. Complete in me that good work. I love you, Lord! Amen.
Prayer for Clarity
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” —Proverbs 3:5-6
Lord Jesus, my mind is muddled and messy. My thoughts are fragmented and confused. I am not leading from a place of abundance but rather a place of lack. Lord, I repent and ask your forgiveness for trying to serve through my own strength. I know now, the folly of my flesh. I cannot do anything apart from you. Jesus, I ask that you settle my spirit and make your path for me clear. Help me to abide in you, to rest in your ways, and for my thinking to become so focused on you that this difficult season fades into the background. Teach me, Jesus, to suffer well for you. Let my thoughts not drift from you. Amen.
Prayer for Comfort
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”—Lamentations 3:19-23
Jesus, how great you are. Thank you for suffering on my behalf. Thank you for showing not only me, but the whole world, just how much you love us. Lord, I am hurting right now. My heart is broken and aches within my chest. I cannot fix or heal this pain. I admit that I want it to go away, but Lord, will you please wrap me in your tender arms and lead me through this pain? Holy Spirit, will you wash over me and create in me that peace that transcends all understanding? Abba-Father, will you comfort me and allow me to comfort others? Thank you, Lord, for your great love! Amen.
Prayer for Peace
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 4:6-7
Jesus, Prince of Peace, I am so thankful for your teaching, your example of peace even in the most difficult of moments. Jesus, I want to be more like you, yet in this moment I feel so far from you. My peace has been rocked, my ability to manage my own emotions is fleeting. Lord, be with me and draw me close to yourself, remind me of your ways, break down the barriers that I’ve built up around myself and teach me to live in peace even amid the chaos that wants to consume me. I love you, Lord. Amen.
Prayer for When You Just Don’t Know What to Pray
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” —Psalm 25:4
Lord, I do not have the words to say or anything profound or beautiful to offer you. So, I cry from the bottom of my heart, “thy will be done.” Let me rest on those four words and have the faith to know that your will is so much greater than my own, that your ways are always higher, that in you there is justice and freedom, healing and peace. You are working all things out. Help me have the eyes to see what you are weaving together and the patience to let you work out what I cannot. You are God and you are good, I trust you and love you and keep my faith in you alone. Amen.
As we traverse through seasons of difficulty, prayer continues to be our lifeline. Never diminish the power of prayer in your own life, over your leadership, and in the lives of others. In these moments of struggle, there is added value in applying the words of James 5:14-15, “Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.”
When we are sick in spirit, downcast or downtrodden, remember that our prayers have even more power when prayed in community. Christian leaders and ministers need prayer from their peers, friends, and community. These prayers can break down walls, restore relationships and redeem what is broken within us. Do not shy away from praying within the context of your community, in fact, each of us should be inviting consistent prayer from others into our lives. Do not hesitate to call a friend or trusted counselor and ask, “will you pray for me and with me?”
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Rachel Baker is the author of Deconstructed, a bible study guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed or ill-equipped to study the word of God. She is a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, who believes in leading through vulnerability and authenticity. She is a cheerleader, encourager, and sometimes drill-sergeant. She serves the local church alongside her husband, Kile, in Northern Nevada. They have two amazing kiddos and three dogs. Rachel is fueled by coffee, tacos and copious amounts of cheese. For more on her and her resources to build your marriage, see her website: www.rachelcheriebaker.com or connect with her on Instagram at @hellorachelbaker.