Where Are You, God? A Prayer

I sit in my chair looking across my neat desk into eyes that are sad. Just plain sad. There is no mistaking the emptiness. It’s haunting, but even more so for him. I can turn it off at the end of the day. He cannot. A burning question comes back to me, “Is this loneliness and despair what God has in store for me?” “Is it a sick game from a God who’s far more powerful than me?” It’s a question too many people have, and too many people get irresponsible and damning answers from religious leaders. Victims of abuse are told, “Just put your trust in God,” as if that melts away the images of his sweaty body being thrust upon them, forcing them into unimaginable acts. “Jesus Loves You, This I Know,” one man sings as he’s raping his daughter.

Perhaps we preachers should allow people to cry out to God, to yell at him, be mad at him, and to question him. Rather than offering useless clichés like, “God is good, ALL THE TIME!” we should be saying, “My God, I can’t imagine.” Though the person sitting in my office that day is not a victim of sexual abuse, his feelings about God mirror many who are. I did not offer any “wise” prescriptions for his personal life experiences. I simply listened. And cried.

I asked him if I could publish his prayer, because I believe there is grace, eloquence, and brutal honesty in his words. I believe that people can benefit from hearing his desperate cry to God. I believe preachers should be listening to these types of prayers and, instead of offering cheap advice, offer hope by identifying with the hurt. Here are the raw, unaltered words of his prayer:

Almighty God, I humbly come before you now. I don’t know what your plan is for me or if you even have a plan for me, but I need some assistance from you. I know that you love and care for me deeply, which is why I don’t understand why you let me suffer so much. I know that as Christians we are called to suffer as Christ suffered for our sins to be forgiven, but why did you make things to turn out this way? You are the one and only omnipotent God. You could have made things to be anyway you wanted. It’s not like you had to get anyone or anything else’s permission to make things the way you wanted, you are the boss. I don’t get why you would make the penalty for sin death. You could have made it something far less severe or even done away with anything that would be considered sinful. Why did you choose to let people suffer and die and burn in hell for all eternity? Just for the sake of giving us the choice to serve you? Sorry, but if that’s the case I’d rather not have the choice. I’d rather prefer you to control my actions and guide me along your desired path than just saying: Okay, you’re born now, so you can choose to follow me or suffer forever. I didn’t have a choice in being born, so why should that change for the worst just because I have been born?
On another note, I don’t understand why good people suffer and evil people get the riches of the earth. I know that in the end good godly people will be rewarded with eternal life in Heaven and that wicked people will be cast into Hell and die for all eternity, but this raises a question and a concern in my mind. Why do good people have to wait? So, from my perspective, it doesn’t make sense to punish people for doing good things and rewarding people for living sinfully. That doesn’t seem like the Ideal way to convert sinners to Christianity. Wouldn’t it be easier if living in a godly manner got the rewards and leading a sinful life drove people into darkness such as poverty & depression? I really feel that would be a better system than what we’ve got right now (not trying to challenge you almighty God, I’m just saying that I don’t understand anything you do at all).
Anyways, I am suffering right now pretty severely. I don’t have a job, I’m not in school, I have no money, I haven’t been to Church in months, I’m lonely, I’m depressed, I’m anxious, I hurt physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. And the worst part of all of this is that there is no end in sight to any of these problems. In fact, I only see that most of them (if not all) will be getting worse. God I apologize for this but why do you allow me to suffer so much? Now I realize that there are people out there who have worse problems than I do, but I am definitely in need of some divine intervention now.
God, I feel worthless. I feel that I have no point in existing. You’ve given me reason to suspect that you do have a purpose for me by the fact that I could have died twice now but didn’t. So, if you do have a purpose for me please tell me what it is so that I can work on accomplishing that. And if I truly don’t have a point or my point is to suffer, than I would like to opt out of this mess that is my life. Please give me a life that is worth living. My entire life, from birth to present, has been nothing but failure, pain, sorrow, grief, and torture. I feel as though I cannot keep dealing with this fiasco for much longer especially since I only see it getting worse.
I want to embrace life. I want to love and be loved. I want to experience joy and happiness. Please let me. God, please help me now in my time of need.
It is in Jesus’ name that I say and ask these things and more. Amen.

14 Replies to “Where Are You, God? A Prayer”

  1. Jimmy, Thank you so much for publishing this! I can only hope that church leaders by the thousands will read this because so often the broken, the downtrodden, the hopeless go to their preachers and elders and other church leaders seeking some kind of comfort and hope, and they are given instead words that sound nice — quotable quotes, as I like to say — that don’t give any real comfort.

    When our family was in the trenches of pain, shock, disbelief, horror, and agony over hearing about what had now become “our shared pain” — the fact that your dad was a practicing pedophile and had molested many little girls, I sought help from anybody who would listen. Sadly, the ones I thought could and would give me the most comfort and support could only do one thing: they told me to read the bible and pray. They likened me to Job. They said things like, “It could be worse.” They were of no comfort. The ones who comforted me were those who listened, who cared, and who said, “I’ll help you in any way I can” and I knew they meant it.

    I appreciate you so much and the words you’ve written here. We all need to take them to heart. Too often we’re quick to preach book, chapter, verse and we fail to look into the eyes of the broken, the hopeless ones, and give some real comfort.

    I cannot begin to place the value of listening ears, a caring heart, shared tears, and I’ll even carry it a step beyond. Out of work? How about helping that person find work. Out of food? How about sharing some food from our table. Out of money for prescriptions? How about picking up the prescription from the pharmacy and quietly saying, “Paid in full”?

    God is good — all the time. But, life isn’t good all the time, and we need to remember that when we’re talking to those who are in the trenches of lonely, ongoing pain!

    1. The “it could be worse” or the variant “there are many others in your camp” isn’t reassuring to people who are at the end of their rope. Misery doesn’t love miserable company. I was told before, “Please don’t tell me about other people’s suffering right now because that only confirms that there are more people like me suffering. I can’t handle that right now.” Sitting with the broken is akin to walking a balance beam–it takes grace, focus, and patience. Our presence needs to be an anchor in the middle of the storm.

    2. No Ma’am. It couldn’t have been worse. Your family is in my prayers and a lot of other people’s as well.

  2. Hi Jimmy and Hi Clara…

    Thanks Jimmy for sharing this prayer and your words. It touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I think sometimes (our church)is very good at meeting needs (providing food, money, electricity, house payments)….but sometimes what is needed is much deeper then things. It seems to me that ministers, counselors, doctors, social workers, nurses, and even the neighbors are so busy anymore protecting their own boundaries, that we have become a society of fake smiles, and how do you do’s. It takes real courage to care about someone enough to truly get involved with their heartache. Obviously, their is no cure for years of deception from your father, their is no cure for mending the broken heart of a parent that has lost a child, their is no cure for someone who deals with mental health problems…..A true friend that listens, doesn’t judge, and holds your hand as you walk through what feels like hell….Goes a long way, and requires sometimes a lifelong committment….Love you guys….Hope your having a wonderful day.

  3. Jimmy, Thank you. So many times, what is needed is a lap, shoulder to cry on and cry with us, them, who ever is needy at that time, we need to be able to be quiet and cry with them. There are no pat answers. Thank you again.

    1. You’re right, Melody–no pat answers. I often say that you can’t reduce (whatever the problem is) to a few bullet points. Offering clichés to people just doesn’t have the healing aspect that listening does.

  4. The prayer is a very powerful message from a very broken individual. You simply need to listen. I did today. As I said I would. It was good for the both of us. Loving The Lord does not mean we do not question Him. If I am to be punished for the times I yelled at The Lord, eternity won’t be long enough for me to suffer! Thankfully, we have our Holy Spirit to interpret! Lately, He has been very busy softening my my concerns before presenting them to my Savior. Thank you for he prayer Jimmy. Praying for the author daily.

    1. Mike, you know I’ve done my share of shouting, too. One of the most healing prayers someone prayed with my wife and I when we were at a very low point was, “God we don’t understand why you let this evil happen, and we don’t like it. We protest these things you’ve allowed to happen but, though we don’t understand we trust you.” Amen.

  5. A friend directed me to this site and I find myself reading words I have spoken, cried, yelled at God many times over the last few months. I’ve not experienced the horror of abuse yet grief, anguish that leaves me fighting to breathe, I have experienced. I can’t make sense of anything right now, especially my views/belief in God. I hear the rhetoric, the blah blah blah offered by pastors and other religious people and it makes me sick. The worst part is realizing I am nothing, I mean nothing in this dreadful world, and the one who I thought loved me is the one allowing pain and suffering to happen. I feel lost yet ironically I keep turning back to God even if it’s to tell him that I don’t trust him anymore. Guess there’s still something in my heart that looks for him even if I just don’t get life at all or his “plan”.

    Thanks for posting this.

    1. Karen, thank you for sharing your struggles as you go through this dark period. I’ve witnessed several preachers before who, to the broken, became cheerleaders for God rather than His salve for the wounded. That has always raised my antennae to really try to listen to people who are broken and (rightfully so) questioning His plan for them. I don’t want to be the guy who isn’t willing to grieve with others, to hurt when they hurt.

      The most damaging thing, in my opinion, is when people’s ego gets bruised if they can’t cheer someone up, as if it’s their duty to make someone “get over it.” It’s always heart wrenching when I hear comments like, “You just don’t have enough faith and that’s why you’re still depressed.” Keep praying, shouting, and crying. God is listening. And loving.

  6. When I was 16 years old, I prayed, spoke, most of the things in this mans prayer. I could hardly believe it was written for me to read. When I’ve told others of my feelings, they look at me like I’m some kind of freak who doesn’t get God. But I do. I do have the real living Jesus in my heart and life. Somewhere in my life, I’ve understood that speaking truth is completely necessary. As I was reading this prayer I suddenly felt strength, validation. I’m not a freak to feel these things. I used to say to God, ..” I didn’t ask to be born! Why do I have to make a choice of Heaven or hell .. I don’t want either … I just want to not exist.” ……. My favorite chapter in the whole bible is. Psalm 139 .. Which ends search me oh God and know my heart, lead me in your ever lasting way. ….. I’m 57 years old and have left my husband because of his porn addiction which has been present throughout our whole marriage, I was molested as a child, and raped when I was 21 … I’ve asked God, “am I ever going to know what it is truly like to be wholly loved? What is my purpose … Is my purpose to be used by all these selfish people? Etc ..” I’m tired, very, very tired … I wish I knew my purpose? I’ve had a minister tell me, your purpose is to love God, live for Him! I know he is there helping me, I’ve witnessed some amazing things from. Him lately … Oh the journey!

    1. You are a true hero, as was King David who prayed prayers of distress. It’s freeing and healing to cry out to God. We should allow people to do it more freely. He is strong enough to listen. My prayers are with you as you wade through your grief. Know that you are not alone, and that you are loved.

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