Perhaps social media has increased our awareness, but chances are you or someone you know is enduring a season of grief right now: the death of a loved one, friend, neighbor or coworker.
Loss always produces grief. There is no escaping it. If you try to deny it or postpone it, it will only gather force and become more debilitating the longer you try to suppress it. That is one reason prayer is an indispensable resource for a grieving heart. While intelligible prayer may seem impossible in the early days of a deep loss, one or more of the following prayers may become helpful as the shock begins to subside:
1) Pour out your grief.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief” (Psalm 31:9, NIV). My heart is broken, my mind exhausted. I cry out to you and hardly know what to ask. All I can do is tell you how I feel and ask you to “keep track of all my sorrows. . . . all my tears in your bottle. . . . each one in your book” as I pour them out to you (Psalm 56:8, NLT). Amen.
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2) Ask for comfort.
Jesus, You said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4, NIV). I am mourning; send me Your comfort now. Wrap around Your arms around me and hold me tight. Send angels of mercy to me. Shower Your comfort on me through those around me, and keep far from me those whose words and actions are no comfort. Amen.
3) Ask for healing.
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, hurry to help me. Please take the consuming anguish I feel right now; take it from me and hold me in Your arms. Heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Amen.
4) Ask for peace.
Jesus, You told Your followers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. . . . Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (John 14:1, 27, NIV). I need Your peace. I need “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” to guard my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7, NIV). I need peaceful sleep. I ask for peaceful thoughts and emotions to rule my days and nights. Amen.
Read More: The Garden That Healed Our Grief
5) Ask for hope.
Lord, the Bible says You are “close to the brokenhearted and those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18, NLT). Draw close to me and rescue me. Help me not to grieve like those who haven’t discovered Your kindness and mercy, who have no hope (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13); lift me up and give me hope once more. Help me to believe that tomorrow will be better, and the next day will be easier, and that a day will come when I will feel a surge of energy and expectation for what You are doing and where You will take me. Amen.
As the prayers above suggest, you may find special comfort in reading and praying the Psalms during a season of grief. They can help you take the time to grieve well and to pray as much as you are able.
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
(RNS) Pastor Greg Laurie knows a thing or two about prayer in tough times.
The honorary chairman of this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 2) says prayer was the only thing that got him through his son’s death five years ago. When fellow megachurch pastor Rick Warren lost his son Matthew to suicide, Laurie was the man he most wanted to hear from.
Laurie, 60, who leads the evangelical Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., talked about prayer, grief and what not to say when a friend’s loved one dies. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: The prayer you wrote for the National Day of Prayer mentions “random acts of horrific violence.” How did you pray after the Boston Marathon bombings?
A: I prayed that comfort would be extended to those who had lost loved ones. I prayed for those who were injured. And I prayed for no more of these attacks to happen.
Q: Then there was an explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant. How did you pray about that?
A: Anytime there’s human suffering and anytime people have lost loved ones, I pray that God will extend comfort to them because, having had our own son die five years ago, I’ve been up close and personal with grief and I know the very real pain that it brings into a person’s life.
Q: It’s been a difficult month for the nation with these back-to-back tragedies. Do you think people should be more drawn to prayer in times like this, or is it wrong to mostly call on God when we’re in need?
A: I don’t think it’s ever wrong to call on God. Certainly it’s far better if we’re calling on him all the time. Quite frankly, sometimes crisis is what shows us a need that we had all along, which was the need to pray.
Q: Can you discuss your role in talking to Rick Warren after he lost his son to suicide?
A: I called him the day after it happened and he said, “You’re the one person I’ve been waiting to hear from.” We talked for a while about it. We prayed. I shared some things that I learned over the years after losing our own son and then I spoke just last Sunday at Saddleback Church. I brought a message of hope and encouragement to his congregation.
Q: What was your major piece of advice for them?
A: I said, I just want you to know that Rick is going to come through this. He’s going to come through this stronger but I also want you to know this is the hardest thing that can happen to a parent — to lose a child.
Q: What should people not say when a friend is grieving the loss of a child?
A: Don’t say, “I know what you’re going through” because you probably don’t.
I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I know what you’re going through. My grandmother just died.” And I pointed out that everyone’s grandmother and grandfather will die, then their parents, then them. But no one expects their child to die before them.
Or saying things like “Well, just rejoice and smile they’re in heaven.” Understand that though that is technically true, it is also true that that person is in deep pain and that can come off almost glib and uncaring.
Q: Can you talk briefly about your son’s death?
A: He was 33. He was actually working for our church as our lead designer and was on his way to work and had an automobile accident and died.
Q: Has that experience changed the way you approach prayer?
A: It has shown me how much I need to pray. When it was all said and done, being a preacher didn’t give me a leg up on this. I still was a grieving father missing a son. And in the initial moments after it happens, and the hours and the days after that, one wonders if you can even survive such a thing. I’ve found that prayer is what got me through the day. Sometimes it wasn’t so much day by day, it was even hour by hour.
Q: So what’s the message you’re going to bring to Capitol Hill on the National Day of Prayer?
A: I am going to talk about how God promises to heal a nation if we will pray. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 he says, “If my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I’ll forgive their sin and heal their land.”
What I find interesting about that verse is God is not pointing his finger at the White House, so to speak, but at his house. I think that it’s very easy for people in the church to point their fingers at Washington or Hollywood. In effect, God points his finger at his own people.