Have you ever prayed this prayer?
“Lord, why in your name are you so slow? Why do you push me to this point? Pardon the language, but this is [curse word]. Seriously. You don’t even answer this prayer? Here are the facts the way I see them: You don’t give me strength in the time of need. You are not ever-present with me. You don’t carry my burden. Your eyes move to and fro but they don’t see my tears. All my spiritual muscles are fatigued. I can’t hope anymore. I feel like a complete failure all the time. I let you down. I let myself down. I let my family down. Everyone I know must always be let down. Is there some reason you want me this way? You want me to think and act in unrighteous ways? Does it help your cause and contribute any glory? Do you love to see your people fail, over and over?
What is wrong with what I asked for? I hunger and thirst for righteousness—my righteousness. That is all I ask for. What is wrong with asking for the strength to do it right? And if you have the power, for your own sake, why do you withhold it from me? What good does it do to deny me the movement of my heart and my will so that I make the right decisions? Why do I continually have to live in a habit of sin? It hurts so bad. I just want to die. You are not going to do anything, so let me die!
When people from the outside look at me, what do they see? They don’t see spiritual success; they don’t see hope; they certainly don’t see joy. They see a defeated person—a defeated pastor!—who follows this God they don’t believe in. They feel sorry for me. I’m the pity of your enemies. What good does that do for your cause? What good does it do when those who hate you come to me and pat me gently on the head saying, “Poor Michael. He put his hope in the Lord and look where it had taken him. He feigns a smile while withholding a frown, while we always smile.”
You know I don’t want to be selfish. You know I don’t want to break promises. You know I don’t want to be irresponsible. You know I long for endurance. You know I don’t want to escape my depression in some worldly way. I want doing what’s right to come naturally. I know it can’t come from me. I’ve tried for way too long to produce the desire, that influences the will, and makes good decisions. The only time I’ve ever done what’s right is when it came without effort. Let’s face it: the only time I’ve ever done what’s right is when you were the beginning and the end of my decisions. It was easy.
But now I’m in a continual wrestling match with my sin, having hatred for myself and frustration with you. I am a shame to the Christian world. For goodness sake, I’m a pastor! What good does all this do your cause?”
If you have, you’re in good company. Although this is not me at the moment, I do keep this prayer on reserve.