How to Pray When Christmas Isn't "Merry"
By: Lisa Logan
The Christmas trees are being decorated, lights are twinkling in the department stores and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is starting to play on TV. The words, "The Most Wonderful TIme of Year" and "Happy Holidays" are stretched out across your neighbour's front door. Unlike so many who are rejoicing with merriment, you don't feel the same. No, you are not Mr. Grinch, nor are you Scrooge, however, as Christmas cheer is being spread around, you find yourself crying.
For some of you working in retail stores, you are surrounded with constant over-spending, exchanges and wish lists. Perhaps you physically lost someone to illness and you are wondering how you will get through this season without falling apart. Maybe you are heading to chemo therapy and the word remission is far in the distance, or maybe you are coming out of a failed relationship and you are feeling lonely and betrayed.
The exchanging of gifts, savoury treats and Christmas music has always been for you something to look forward to and your favourite time of year. Typically Advent has been a time for you to prepare for the coming of Jesus and a time where you watched your children with joy as they opened their chocolate calendar each night-- until this year.
The Truth about the Christmas story is yes, it is filled with hope for the second coming, but the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus aren't particularly "merry". The three wise men walked through the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birth doubtful and worried. The Shepherds watched their flock by night lonely and looked over. The Jewish people lived in constant fear as they lived under Roman oppression. Mary and Joseph prepared Jesus' stable for his birth surrounded by smelly animals as they were rejected at the inn. They also felt scared, alone, worried, and fearful.
Even in the dark and painful circumstances of their time, even in the midst of their suffering, even as questions loomed over them -- Jesus came into the world. Into their world. Jesus came with peace into those situations that were without hope. He came into their bruised heart with joy even when they had nothing to smile about. He comes again, with the same joy and peace today and especially during this Christmas season, for you.
If you find yourself feeling this way this season, I pray that you may find one of these following prayers as light in the darkness:
A Prayer for Peace
Loving Father, as I celebrate once more the birth of Jesus, your Son, give me the grace to hear more deeply and live more fully the promise of peace proclaimed by the angels that first Christmas. Dwell in my broken heart and make me ever-more open to Your presence among those I meet and in my family. Give me a peace that surpasses all understanding that you promised in Philippians, even in the mist of my pain and suffering, In Jesus’ name I pray.
A Prayer for Hope
Loving Father, help me to believe that you are at work, that a new birth will take place, that you will enter my heart even though it is filled with despair and fear of the future. Thank you that our hope is not simply wishful thinking but rather our hope is based on our confidence that you are with me and that you care. I believe that no matter how long I need to wait, your help and strength will never run out. Remind me once more of the plans that you have for me and that you are with me every step of the way. In Jesus' name I pray.
A Prayer for Joy
Loving Father, how I bless and thank You for the glad tidings of great joy that were given to all people. I ask you to flood my heart with joy so that despite my circumstances people may see you in me and that they too may experience this joy. Not a false happiness, but a joy that bubbles up like a spring of Living Water because it is found in you, the source of all joy. It is not moved by difficult situations but remains through all. Restore to me this joy and help me to understand with new eyes what kind of joy you brought into the world through your birth. In Jesus' name I pray.
A Prayer for Healing
Loving Father, you know me so well. You created my most inward being. You know the numbers of hair on my head, the thoughts in my mind and how I am so desperate for you now. You are the God who heals and you said, "ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find". You told us to come to you for every need and every worry. I am coming to you now Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, longing that you hear me and give me divine healing from____. There's so much I don't understand, but if you say the Word I shall be healed. Forgive me of my sins, and begin your healing in me from the inside out. In Jesus' name I pray.
A Prayer to Know Your Presence
Loving Father, Abba, Daddy, please be near to me at this time and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may experience your presence. I cannot feel you right now, but I believe by faith that you hear my every prayer, see every tear and feel every hurt. I am so exhausted and worn out, full of anxiety and stress. I want to know that you are near and so I approach you with a humble heart and ask that you may fill my heart with love that burns like an ember. I give you these worries and fears; please help me to let go of them. Be with me and stay with me now closer than ever before. In Jesus' name I pray.
May the Christmas story fill you with a new hope this Christmas and may it be marked by simple prayers that are spoken from the secret places of our hearts. Please email or PM us any prayer intentions that we may join in with you this season of Advent.