Have there been times when, due to physical affliction or even conviction over sin, you simply couldn’t pray? You are not alone. Susie Spurgeon found herself so gripped by the anguishing pain of affliction that though she wanted to pray, all that she could do was groan and weep.
“I lately lay upon a bed of languishing. Awakening at a very early hour, one morning, during my recent illness, I found myself in an extremity of bodily pain and anguish. I tried to pray, but connected thought was an impossibility; groans and tears were the only expression I could give to my suffering, and even these were subdued and hushed lest the sleeping household should be disturbed.”
While prayer was sometimes an impossibility for Susie when she penned those words, the thought flashed upon her mind that God knew her situation, heard her groans, and that her heart had a direct line to God, though her lips could not utter a word. “No darkness, no distance, no dividing distress of any kind can separate thee from His constant care.”
So, what are you to do when you simply can’t pray, either due to your sin or physical suffering? Susie offers helpful counsel:
- Submit to the will of God. God knows what you are facing and he is working in you “some ultimate blessing.”
- Praise Him with sighs and silence. Susie declared that the “tears which ran down my cheeks were all ‘put into his bottle,’ for He came very near to me” to comfort. In Susie’s case, the Lord did not immediately remove the pain but strengthened her to endure it.
- Rest patiently in God. It is during times of suffering, sighing, and sorrow that God offers blessed communion with himself. It is often in hindsight that one is able to perceive that during the lowiest seasons, God was especially near in communion.
- Remember that God is not indifferent to your sorrows and your inability to articulate your prayers. Susie encouraged her readers: “To all the Lord’s sorrowful and afflicted ones, whether their groans be on account of sin, or sickness, or insensibility of heart, I pray that my experience may be an encouragement. Do remember, dear friend, that the God you love, the Master you serve is never indifferent to your grief, or unwilling to hear your cry. ‘He takes the meaning of our tears, The language of our groans.”
- Cherish great thoughts of God. Susie believed that cherishing great thoughts of God would “induce great longings after Him, great faith in Him, and great love toward Him.” Such longings, faith, and love helps the Christian to soar above the trials that distract him from the faithfulness of God.
Pain is an unwelcome visitor, yet it is “often an angel in disguise, and many a time we have found that underneath its terrible exterior, there are hidden the tender smiles of God’s love, the gentle discipline of His teaching, and the sweet pity of His marvelous forebearance.”
There are times when we simply cannot pray. We can cry, groan, and sigh, but forming words on our lips proves to be an impossibility. Remember, during those times that through Christ your heart is connected to God, he knows you, loves you, and is very aware of your troubles. Embrace His will, praise him by your quietness, trust that he is near, remember that God is ever aware of your situation, and cherish great thoughts of him. It is then that you will know his comfort though your lips cannot declare his praises.
Quotes are from A Cluster of Camphire: Thoughts of Cheer and Comfort to Sick and Sorrowful Souls, by Mrs. C.H. Spurgeon.
To learn more about Susannah Spurgeon, read the new biography by Ray Rhodes, Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon from Moody Publishers. Learn more about Susie at www.susiespurgeon.com. There is a full list of stores that carry Susie, interviews with Ray Rhodes, media requests, and other Susie information. You can also contact Ray about speaking engagements via the website.