The Power of Comfort

When someone we care about hurts or struggles, we want to be a source of comfort. We offer words, hugs, our presence. And we pray. Our thoughtful gestures matter and certainly impact, yet when we pray, we rehearse our trust that God is with this person. We express the depths of how we desire Him to help them, and as we do we believe that He can do far more than what we ask or imagine.

Dear God, I lift my friend/ my child/ my co-worker to you. Please comfort them. Cover and fill those places that only you can fully comfort. Amen.

God hears our simple words and sees the truest version of the yearning in our heart—our inmost thoughts that we have not yet whispered. He delights that we trust Him to provide perfect comfort. He comforts them—and He comforts our concerned heart.

So, what about when you are the one who aches?

Do you ever forget that you are a child, God’s beloved daughter, his little girl? Sometimes I live like I’ve forgotten. When hard stuff happens, I ask for God’s help to persevere or to be strong. It usually takes me a while to remember, I need the comfort of my Abba’s loving arms right now. I need to be still and be held.

“For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” (Isaiah 51.3)

Fun, encouragement, rest, inspiration fill some of our days. Then another day, week, or season ushers in sadness, discouragement, exhaustion, overwhelm. Relationship tension or heartache, illness, financial crisis, work stress, and decision anxiety stir angst. Hard experiences can strip the part of us that was content.

God is with us—Immanuel. He is Comfort and covers our waste places and wilderness—those spaces of hurt, loss, confusion, and fear. Even though our hard circumstances may remain, God’s comfort soaks our soul that we may rest, secure and peaceful in Him.

“I, I am he who comforts you.”  (Isaiah 51.12a)

Thank you, O God, that you comfort us, even when we don’t ask. Help us come to you and learn to be still with you for soaking comfort. Thank you that though challenging times come, you will make our wilderness like Eden and our desert like the garden of the LORD. Amen.

I Guess I’ll Just Pray

“I wish I could do something to help.”
“I’ll just pray . . .”

Have you ever felt frustrated that you can’t do more for someone or that you’re not doing enough? Maybe you can tell that someone is in pain—at your workplace, across the aisle in the grocery store, or living in your home—yet you struggle with how or whether to engage. I have; maybe you have, too.

We want to help, to do, to say something helpful or comforting, to fix. These are fine and often helpful responses. Yet sometimes we miss beautiful opportunities to partner with God, as we think on what we can do or say. Our greatest response or engagement toward a person generates from the stir of God’s Holy Spirit in us. We don’t “just pray.” We exercise a privilege to go to Almighty God on someone else’s behalf because we believe that he listens and that he always responds with his best in his perfect timing.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” (Psalm 141.2a) The psalmist David knew that prayer honors God. “And when he (Jesus) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5.8)

Express your heart to God—plain and simple, humble. Our earnest words are incense to our Father who wants intimacy with his children and enjoys the pleasure of our coming to him. Continue to offer your heart’s words, over and over again . . . unless or until he stirs your heart to modify it. God doesn’t need us to pray, in order for anything good to happen. We need God and thus, we need to talk to the One we need.

I could and want to pray more. Perhaps, the same is true for you. So why don’t we? I can share one personal, powerful insight I experienced recently—We forget how AWESOME PRAYER is.

A few weeks ago, a group of pastors’ wives gathered to pray. I knew I had to slip out after a few minutes in order to get to the airport. When I quietly stood, a friend whom I’d only met twice looked up, “Let’s pray for Teresa before she leaves.” Everyone stood, surrounded me, and prayed. I was humbled and awed. They are weary, too, yet they gave as conduits of the message and power of God. I hardly know some of them, but they are my sisters in Christ. They loved me with their words to our Lord, and he refreshed and strengthened me. . . . just pray? What could have meant more?

I spent the rest of that week with packers as they boxed our belongings for our move to South Carolina. Occasionally, one of the packers named Patricia asked me questions, “How long did you live in Houston? How old are your children?” So I did the same. Then she told me about her mom. As she shared, I was surprised by the reaction in my heart. I felt pain, even grief, for what her mother had experienced. I took a deep breath, “May I pray for your mother?” She looked shocked and almost whispered, “Yes.” When the first word left my mouth, I began to weep. I tried to stop but couldn’t, so I kept praying. When I finished, I looked at her and smiled through my tears (yes, I felt a little weird), “I will continue to pray for Sylvia.” . . . just pray? God swelled my heart with his love, and I trust that he holds Sylvia’s.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4.18)

Dear God, Thank you for your love for us. Help us learn from you how to more often exercise our privilege to pray. Grow us to recognize your prompts, so that joy fills our heart as we respond with silent or aloud words to you. Help us see prayer as sweet communion with you. Fan in to flame passion in our soul to pray. Thank you for Jesus. Amen.