Praying Hard


Praying is difficult but it is even more so trying when you don’t want to talk, when the words are stuck in your throat and it hurts to talk. And you know that the only way to make the pain go away is to let it out, to get it out. But, you want to keep it in…. It’s hard to explain.

Praying when it’s hard, when life has you pinned against a brick wall, when your feet aren’t touching the ground—not because you’re walking on cloud number nine but because you have been stripped of a seemingly sturdy foundation—is hard to imagine. We don’t talk about that.

No, praying is easy. It’s just a conversation. Just open your mouth and the words will come. But, what happens when they don’t, when they cleave to the roof of your mouth and refuse to leave?

We read in Scripture that God is near, that there is one who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverb 18:24). We sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” But, what about those times when we don’t feel like we have a friend in the world, when we surmise like the psalmist, “All men are liars” (Psalm 116:11)?

What do we do when we don’t have the strength to cast our cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7)? What happens when we feel like we have to pretend that we don’t have a care in the world? Because we have been taught that certainty is the appearance of faith, it is difficult to keep up this appearance when you have a question.

It can be hard to walk by faith when it appears that faith has walked by us, passed by us and didn’t even recognize that we were in trouble. We screamed from the brick wall and now talking to God might seem like talking to a brick wall.

Praying when you are hard, when your heart has been hardened by hurt is something we don’t talk about. Of course, we talk to God. We tell God everything. And even if we didn’t, He knows it all. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

This is when the Spirit must intercede, when we can only listen and nod in agreement. We have the Partner and the Comforter and the Word who says it all even when it’s hard to.

smcneillReverend Starlette McNeill* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland. A graduate of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, she writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at She is also a wife, mother, and columnist with Baptist News Global, Baptist Women in Ministry, and Ethics Daily. She is a contributing author to the book Faith Forward: Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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  1. Lillian A Robbins says

    Thanks! This is where I had been and still am.