The life of the Christian, like ordinary daily life, runs in seasons. Just as there is time spent in green pastures, there are also times spent in the valley of the shadow of death. This happens with our prayer life as well.
The great battle for Christians is to trust what God has said rather than what we feel or what we can see. While our feelings can give us clues as to the state of things, they’re imperfect. They have been affected by the fall. And so, we will find that there are seasons where prayer feels like drinking deep from clear springs. But there are also times when the well seems to have run dry. When the sun has baked the earth around you and the landscape turns into a desert wilderness.
I’m working my way through the Puritan Paperback Prayer by John Bunyan, and it’s an incredibly convicting and comforting read.
Written by the beloved Tinker of Bedford while he was imprisoned there, it’s a wonder to think of what his prayer life might have been like at the time.
For those who are feeling like their prayers are going off into the void, he writes these words:
… the soul rightly informed and enlightened says, Well, I will seek the Lord, and wait; I will not leave off, though the Lord keep silence, and speak not one word of comfort. (Isaiah 40:27). The Lord loved Jacob dearly, and yet he made him wrestle before he had the blessing (Gen. 32:25-27). Seeming delay in God are no tokens of his displeasure; he may hide his face from his dearest saints (Isaiah 8:17). He loves to keep his people praying, and to find them ever knocking at the gate of heaven; it may be, says the soul, the Lord tries me, or he loves to hear me groan out my condition before him.