An Invitation to Those Who Have Stopped Praying // Ep. 046

 

I’ll admit to you today that in the last decade, since my son’s autism diagnosis, my prayer life has changed. After so many nights of asking for sleep and not getting it, after praying for help and not getting it, I started only asking for safe requests. I didn’t want to demand what God wasn’t willing to give. I didn’t want to be disappointed. But the Holy Spirit led me to Mark 10 and Jesus’s encounter with Bartimaeus. The question Jesus asked him is the same question He asked me. And the answer continues to draw me closer to Him in prayer.

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Transcript:

Hi friends, this is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host Sandra Peoples. To us, self-care isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. We need to take better care of ourselves so we can care for those God has entrusted to us, whether that’s a child with special needs, a spouse with declining health, or in our caregiving professions.

If this is your first time listening, I’m so glad you found us! Maybe a friend recommended this podcast. Or maybe you connected with me on Instagram or Facebook and followed the links! Our focus is on becoming abiding caregivers who live out the truth in John 15:5 that apart from Jesus we can do nothing, but if we abide in Him, we find strength for our calling.

Each month we hit on topics that help you manage your home and time, strengthen your relationships, and encourage your walk with Christ. Our topic today is a soul-care focused topic. I don’t think I’m alone in the struggle I share today, and I hope the solution I’ve found helps you as well.

Before we jump into episode 46, I want to make sure you know about the Abiding Caregiver Facebook group. Seventeen-hundred of us hang there each day, sharing our goals for the week, lifting each other up in prayer, and talking about lots of self-care and soul-care related topics. In the last couple of weeks we’ve talked about signs of early menopause, tips for when our kids are adjusting to new meds, book recommendations, and a video that makes me laugh every time I see it. You can find a link to the group in the shownotes for this episode at sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast or search for hashtag abiding caregiver on Facebook!

Now let’s get into today’s topic: an invitation to those who have stopped praying. Maybe you haven’t totally stopped. But you don’t feel like your prayers are effective. So you’ve given up, even a little bit. This episode is for you, because I’ve felt that way at times too.

I can remember one time years ago that I prayed and prayed, and God didn’t answer. We had driven from Pennsylvania to my in-law’s house in North Carolina. My son James, who has level 3 autism, slept in the car, so he didn’t sleep that night. I was totally stressed out trying to keep him quiet so everyone else could sleep. And I was exhausted. I begged God for sleep. I remember praying, “The universe will not change if You just help him sleep. It won’t change Your purpose for anyone else. But it will help me be a nicer mom, wife, and daughter-in-law tomorrow.” Friends, I was so frustrated, I remember praying, “If you can’t do this, what can you do?” Did He answer in the way I was asking? No. James didn’t sleep. My husband Lee woke up around 3:00 and took his turn with James so I could sleep for a few hours. The next day we had to keep James awake so we didn’t have a repeat of the night before.

I’ll admit to you today that in the last decade, since my son’s autism diagnosis, my prayer life has changed. After so many nights of asking for sleep and not getting it, after praying for help and not getting it, I started only asking for safe requests. My prayers included the phrases, “Your will …,” “Your plan …, “Your purpose ….” and not much else. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for God’s will to be done. But that became the only thing I prayed for. I didn’t want to demand what He wasn’t willing to give. I didn’t want to be disappointed. So I didn’t share what was really on my mind and heart. I just said, “Your will be done,” and moved on with my day.

My prayers had gotten so safe, I wondered if they were even worth praying. I wasn’t really being honest with God. I didn’t feel close to Him when I prayed. It felt more like a series of boxes I was checking off than a conversation with my creator who loves me. As I struggled with this, God led me to a passage that reminded me He actually does care. Let me read to you from Mark 10:46-52:

And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Do you notice Bartimaeus’s safe prayers? “Have mercy on me!” he cried out twice. Because we are His children, God lavishes mercy on us. It’s already done and continues to happen each day. It’s like my prayers for “His will.” That will happen whether I pray for it or not.

But Jesus called him closer and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” This is what I feel Jesus asking me as well. What is it that you really want?

The Jesus who asked Bartimaeus to come closer, the Jesus who asked him what he really wanted, is the Jesus who now sits at the right hand of God interceding on my behalf.

In Bartimaeus’s life, it was his blindness that kept him from following Jesus. So Jesus made a way, as we see in verse 52, “And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” I don’t want my disappointment in unanswered prayers to keep me from following Jesus, to keep me from having a relationship with Him that grows stronger each day. Jesus doesn’t want that either, so He will do for me what He did for Bartimaeus—He will make a way.

It starts with this passage in Mark, with the Holy Spirit guiding me here to stop and praise God for the specific love He has for me. And it will continue each day as I pray for mercy, for grace, for His will, but also specifically for money to cover James’s therapy costs, for opportunities to serve and encourage more special-needs families, for sleep, and for help.

I don’t want to stop praying because my requests aren’t answered in the time and way I want them to be. I don’t want to stop asking for things only God can do. I don’t want to play it safe every time I talk to my heavenly Father. So I find hope in this passage and lesson from Bartimaeus’s encounter with Jesus. Even if I don’t get more sleep, or whatever request I’m lifting up, I’m still in communication with God. I’m still leaning in, growing closer to Him and reminding myself of His love for me. And as I end with “Your will be done,” I’m reminded that His will will be done because it is what’s best for me and my family. I can align my desires with His will as I deepen our relationship.

How is your prayer life, friend? Have you grown safe (or distant, or quiet, or angry)? Follow Bartimaeus’s example with me. Move closer to Jesus and tell Him what you truly want. Be restored in your relationship with Him.  Let’s pray together now as we do at the end of each episode:

God, I admit to you that there are times I’m disappointed that you don’t answer my prayers in the way I think you should. This isn’t a surprise to you—you know my heart, even the parts I try to hide. And just like Jesus met Bartimaeus with grace and understanding, You meet me here in prayer with the same invitation. You ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches us to, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” So God, remove any barriers we have put up between ourselves and You. Remind us that You want to hear from us in prayer. That we can pour out our hearts to You. We can ask, seek, and knock. We are never too needy or annoying to You. Thank You for having a purpose for our lives that will bring glory to You, and even as we pray, reveal that purpose to us so we can align our desires with Yours. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Thank you for spending this time with me today, friends. If prayer is a struggle for you, especially praying and not feeling heard, I hope this was an encouragement. You certainly aren’t alone. Even this week I’m praying for you as I pray for myself, that God would make a way for us to draw closer to Him. I know podcasts can feel like a one-way conversation because I talk and you don’t get to talk back, but each week in our Abiding Caregiver Facebook group, we keep the conversation going. It’s truly one of my favorite places to hang out, so I’ll hope you’ll join me there.

Next Monday I’ll be sharing reflections on the ten-year anniversary of James’s autism diagnosis. And I’m very excited about November’s guest episode. Diane Kim will be joining us to talk about navigating challenging relationships with extended family members. Her story of healing and hope will be an encouragement to all of us. It will be the perfect episode to listen to before you are around your family at Thanksgiving and Christmas! Until next Monday, have a great week!

1 thought on “An Invitation to Those Who Have Stopped Praying // Ep. 046

  1. You are a blessing and a light. Thank you for your understanding, insight and encouragement.

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