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How To Pray Through The Disappointments Of Life

I have good news and bad news today. The bad news is that life and others will disappoint you. The good news is that the Holy Spirit wants to work it all together for good. We have to learn how to pray through the disappointments of life.   I love Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” If you have been a believer in Jesus for a time, you probably have heard that wonderful promise.

This is what I know, the enemy of your soul wants to put his “spin” on what happened in your life. He wants to use that “spin” to discourage you, move you from a place of trust in God to a place where fear and doubt come.

When I was boy, I used to hear some of the people of God around me use a term.  They used to speak of “praying through”. The had learned how to pray through the disappointments of life. In other words, when something happened of a negative or a trying nature. Those old believers would say, “I have to pray through about it”.   Someone would bring up something in conversation, someone may react with words like these: “I can’t talk about that yet, I haven’t prayed through yet.” In other words, they knew they were reacting. They knew if they said words, “They would be angry or bitter words.”  They didn’t want to give the devil any ground in interpreting the facts of their life.

They wanted to take the situation to God. They had to pray through. Maybe there were issues they had to rework in their life. Maybe there was forgiveness they needed to extend. But instinctively they prayed until they sensed God had spoken to them by the Holy Spirit.

I want to give you a biblical example of a man who came to God for a reinterpretation of the facts of his life.  In the book of Psalms 116, we have the account of a man who I believe had suffered a great disappointment.  I think he was able to pray through to a new understanding.

I want to share with you the process of how to pray through the disappoints of life.

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR DISAPPOINTMENTS IN LIFE

This man, like most of us, has had some disappointments in his life.  I think that he had actually lost someone that was very close to him.  He describes the disappointment in words that are very painful to him. You can almost feel the depth of the emotion that he has. He describes his disappointment like this.

Psalm 116:3

The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave came upon me;

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.”

I think he had lost someone and was feeling that. While we don’t know exactly what facts made him feel this way, you can sense his anguish. I know there are some of you reading this article and you are looking at things in your life. You too feel disappointed.  You must acknowledge those disappointments before God.

The truth is that God wants to hear about all of the things we go through. He says to you today that you are to cast your care upon Him as He cares for you. The only way that is possible is simply to come before Him and say, this is what is going on in my life and here is how I feel.

Faith is not denying reality. Faith is seeing that God can see you through that valley on to the other side.

  1. DETERMINE TO MOVE PAST THE BARRIERS

Here in this Psalm it is evident that the writer could not seem to get past the disappointments for awhile. The greater burden was not just that he had experienced these problems. The greater burden was that this seemed like an obstacle to Him. I think this man was having a hard time moving on.  He was in a real sense stuck. It was almost as though the psalmist couldn’t move past the barrier for a season.

As he gives praise and expression to God for what he had done in his life. He uses this terminology. He says in Psalm 116:8

“For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.”

 He is saying this in the past tense, so obviously at this point he was okay, but obviously there was a time when he was crying and stumbling along.  I see especially in the last phrase of this verse a deliverance from the disappointments of life:  my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

I see a man here who is struggling with his history.  He is struggling with the facts of his life. Those facts keep him in tears.  Those facts keep him crying. There is no rest for him.  The issue keeps bothering him.  He has lost his way. His feet are stumbling.  He doesn’t know which way to turn. In his distress, he turns to God and that is what we have to do. He turned to God in prayer.

  1. TURN TO GOD IN PRAYER

This man had obviously found prayer to be the answer.  This is to me the testimony of a man who knew how to pray through.  Psalm 116:1-2 “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy, Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”

 He called upon the Lord in his great need. My friend, that is the answer. Turning to God! Where do you turn when you just can’t get past the disappointments of life? You bring them to God.  He said in Psalm 116:4  “Then I called on the name of the Lord…”

I don’t often quote from old hymns. Sometimes the truths in those old hymns speak marvelously.  My grandmother used to play that song “What a friend we have in Jesus” One stanza says

Oh what peace we often forfeit

Oh what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.

If you don’t have peace over a situation, pray until God gives you peace. If you have pain that you are carrying, pray through! Carry that to God in prayer.  I have personally experienced the peace God gives, sometimes it was coming to the front of a church and being prayed for.  Other times it was in my own devotional life.  But I have learned. I don’t have to carry it. And neither to you. Bring it Jesus! You will find that the Holy Spirit is right there waiting, listening, comforting!

And then,

  1. POUR OUT YOUR EMOTIONS TO HIM

This man did in Psalm 116:10-11 “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars”

 He laid it out there to God. I want you to know God is not shook up about your emotion. In fact, God understands our emotions. He understands us.  It is okay to tell God you are upset, or angry or hurt or disappointed. Sometimes what we need to do is really “Pour out our heart to God.”  Job poured out his disappointment to God.  Job said in Job 16:20b “…as my eyes pour out tears to God.”

It is alright to be angry. It is alright to cry.It is alright to express the emotion that goes along with the disappointment to God.  In fact, I believe it is part of “praying through”.  It is essential to release your emotions to God as you pray through.

And then,

  1. ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GIVE NEW MEANING TO YOUR LIFE

God’s Word is creative. Meditate on it. Allow God to give you a new meaning for your hurts.  Listen to God – allow him to give you new meaning for the hurts in your life. I believe that this man in Psalm 116 who was grieving a death found out a new interpretation of the facts of his life. While the Psalm starts out with a great cry of the pain and the sorrow of death. We find toward the end of the Psalm a reinterpretation of the facts of his life. If this man was grieving someone he lost, then God showed Him, that this was precious in his sight as well. Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

Example 1:

When I was in Bible College, there was a man there who had a partial use of one hand and his neck. He shared with me, one day, the facts of his life.  The fact was he had been in a terrible accident. He had laid as a teen in a nursing home in a terrible depression. He wanted to die.  He had to be force fed. Until one day in desperation, he began to call out on God. For days, he poured out his heart and his soul to God. He wept, and he cried, and tears ran down his cheek as he told of how God visited him in that nursing home.

That night reinterpreted the facts of his life. He saw his life as over. But God said to him.  “You are an overcomer. You will be an example. He said, I want you to preach to gospel.” I knew him only in college at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, MN.  He never missed a class. He never missed a chapel. I will never forget on the night I graduated, and his name was called. There came the hum of an electric wheel chair as he rolled across there to get his diploma. Our entire class stood up and cheered and applauded.  Because he had allowed God to reinterpret the facts of his life.

Example 2

A Christian psychologist by the name of Richard Dobbins (not to be confused please with James Dobson) who I heard give his testimony one day. The facts of his life were when he was born, his mother died giving birth to him. His mother was only 19 years old. It was such a painful fact, that many times as a young boy, he would weep. He would cry out to God. He lived with the guilt of it, the pain of it for years.

On his 19th birthday, he stood beside his mothers grave and said, God, I don’t understand it. Why did this happen to me? Why do I feel such sorrow? He cried out to God that day and said, 19 is too young to die. At that moment, kneeling beside that grave, the sweet blessed Holy Spirit spoke to him in a still small voice and said. “Not only did Jesus die for you, but your mother died for you as well.  Your life must be important. Now, Go make something out of it.”

The motivation of that reinterpretation of his life caused him to excel.  His ministry has touched thousands of lives at Emerge Ministry in Akron, Ohio. Is it biblical to pray through and receive a reinterpretation of your life.

Biblical example

In John 9 there was a man that Jesus healed who was born blind. The common spin on a life like that was that someone had sinned, the man or his parents. Even Jesus disciples bought into that idea.  In fact, Jesus disciples asked him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus said, in John 9:3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”   Can you imagine the impact that reinterpretation of the facts of his life gave him? He no doubt walked with head held high for the first time.

 Another bible example

Probably the greatest example of a reinterpretation of the facts of someone’s life is the person of Joseph. What were the facts of his life?

  • Scorned by his brothers because of a God given dream.
  • Sold into slavery by his own brothers
  • Carried off to Egypt.
  • Falsely accused of adultery.
  • Thrown into prison.
  • Forgotten by his friend for whom he had interpreted a dream.
  • Finally made second to Pharaoh

He could have been vengeful or angry or bitter over what happened.  But I contend that Joseph prayed through! How many hours did Joseph pray from a prison cell? How many hours did he cry out as a slave? How long did he weep before the Lord missing his father? Did he pray through until God gave him a new way of seeing things? Yes!

That was most apparent after his father died, his brothers feared for their lives, yet God had given Joseph a new perspective, a new way of interpreting his life.  Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Praying through life’s disappointments is not something that you can put in a timetable. It may have taken Joseph years to understand.  The question is are you willing to pray through life’s disappointments? God wants to give you His interpretation of the facts of your life.

And then,

  1. WALK OUT YOUR NEW INTERPRETATION.

That is what this man did in Psalm 116:9  “…that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

No longer was his soul plagued by death.

No longer were his eyes filled with tears.

No longer were his feet slipping.

Instead, he walked head held high, with purpose and direction.  You too, can pray through the disappointments of life.

About the Author:

Bob Millsaps is a graduate of North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the pastor of Fountain of Life Christian Center in Houston, Texas. He is happily married to his wife Jureen and they have three sons, and one grandaughter. Bob has served the Assemblies of God as a missionary, pastor, youth pastor, and evangelist. Bob currently resides in Katy, Texas

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