My life will be going along fine, no big worries, no overwhelming concerns, and then something will hit, some inexplicable pain, some emotional roadblock, and I feel like storming the heavens. And I do, asking God why, repeating myself, badgering him until I grow weary of it.
Then I’ll hear someone blithely say, “It’s too bad we only speak to God when we really need him. He must miss us during those other times.”
OK, sure. But then I think of my kids, now in their twenties, who go through life swimmingly most of the time, rarely calling out for help or advice or even money. Sending the occasional email or showing a photo on Facebook. If I don’t hear from them for days at a time, that’s OK. But when they’re in any sort of pain, when they’re struggling or lonely or experiencing heartache and reach out, I’m so grateful they come to me. That’s what it means to be a dad.
Surely our heavenly father must feel the same way, even if we haven’t talked to him in days. Even if we haven’t been on speaking terms at all. Particularly then. (Remember the parable of the Prodigal Son? Remember how thrilled the father was when his wastrel of a boy finally returned?)
Our pastor recently used a phrase I love: “Prayer is a way to metabolize sorrow.” Sorrow that goes untreated can do dreadful harm. It can turn into anger, depression, resentment, despair. Pray through your sorrows. Talk through them endlessly. Bug God as long as you like. Do it until you think you bore him (not sure that’s possible). Talk to your friends too, but if you’re like me, there’s some stuff you only want to tell God.
Prayer is a way to metabolize sorrow. Use it.