How to Pray During a Time of Painful Change

Some thoughts on how to pray when your life is upended.

Posted in , Aug 14, 2019

How to pray during a life change

This has been a year of change for me and my wife. And I don’t “do change” well.

Each of us has had a few health challenges, though nothing life-threatening. Some extended family difficulties. We spent a few months preparing to put our house on the market, followed by downsizing, packing, selling and all the adjustments, complications and expenses accompanying a job change and cross-country move.

Our days off, vacations and date nights were temporarily suspended. We hope to be through this time of transition soon, but we know there are still more painful adjustments in the near future. Did I mention that I don’t “do change” well?

The ancient prophet Habakkuk wrote the book of the Bible that bears his name at a time when violence, injustice and oppression afflicted his nation, Judah, and its people. He longed for God to address the situation, and God promised to use the Babylonians to punish His people’s corruption. Confronted with the knowledge of a time of transition and still more painful adjustments in the near future, Habakkuk prayed what I’ve learned to call an “anyway prayer”:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-18, NIV).

I’ve incorporated Habakkuk’s beautiful words into my own prayer routines. A recent example went something like this:

Though my bank account dwindles
    and uncertainties wake me in the night,
though there is too much to do
    and too little time left to do it,
though so much is out of control 
    and out of my hands,
yet I will trust you, Lord,
    I will give thanks to God my Savior.

It’s amazingly simple and surprisingly therapeutic. It gives the person praying a chance to acknowledge the challenges of the moment (or near future) while encouraging a faith-filled response:

Though _______________
    and _______________,
though _______________
    and _______________,
though _______________
    and _______________,
yet I will _______________, Lord,
    I will _______________ God my Savior.

What about you? How would you complete your own “anyway prayer?”

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