How to Pray in Tough Times

You may not give thanks for every circumstance, but you can give thanks in every circumstance.

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Posted in , Oct 4, 2016

How to pray with thanks and gratitude even when things aren't great.

Not long ago I sat on the couch with my two oldest grandchildren. They live in California. My wife and I live in Ohio. We get to see them only a few times a year, so every moment is precious.

This was our last evening together before my wife and I flew home. We had read a few books together before bedtime prayers. We wanted to pray together, on the couch, as we held each other tight. My wife prayed a beautiful prayer, as she always does. And then it was my turn.

I started out well. I said something like, “God, even though our visit is almost over, thank you that we had so much fun together. And even though we have to say goodbye in the morning, thank you for things like Face Time and phone calls and text messages that help those in-between times when we are apart.”

I prayed a few more “even though” prayers—without totally breaking down, mind you, and blubbering like a baby—and concluded, “And even though it hurts that we live so far away from each other, thank you that it only hurts so much because we love each other so much.”

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But I didn’t get the last part out. I started crying, and that just opened the floodgates. 

But my heart was in the right place. And my prayers were good ones. I call them “even though” prayers. Like the famous one the prophet Habakkuk prayed:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,

    and there are no grapes on the vines;

even though the olive crop fails,

    and the fields lie empty and barren;

even though the flocks die in the fields,

    and the cattle barns are empty,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NLT)

“Even though” prayers are an acknowledgment that everything isn’t peachy, but that God is good nonetheless. They remind me, when I wish something was better, that a lot could be worse. And they help me to fulfill the biblical admonitions to “rejoice always” and “give thanks in every circumstance” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18, NIV).

So, even though I may not give thanks for every circumstance, “even though” prayers help me to give thanks in every circumstance.

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