We often pray for things that we need help with, people whom we want to bring close to God, and we give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Another prayer that we might often need is a prayer for trusting God in hard times. Sometimes we don’t need to ask God for things. We simply need to ask him to help us trust him more.
In the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus heals a boy possessed by a spirit, the boy’s father exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) This is an excellent example of a prayer to trust God in hard times. The man acknowledges that he does believe, and asks Jesus to help him believe even more. So too, we can pray that we do trust God, while asking God to help us to trust him even more.
When we consider how to pray to trust God, we can take the man in Mark 9 as an example, telling God “I trust you, LORD. Help me to trust you even more. Take away my uncertainty and help me to be confident in you.”
Another excellent example of a prayer to trust God in hard times is Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20. This is a perfect model to use when we are facing uncertainty, trouble, and challenges that seem impossible to overcome.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer in 2 Chronicles 20 is an excellent example of a prayer for trusting God in hard times. After many years of peace and prosperity, word came that three large armies were marching toward Judah. These three armies were much larger and stronger than Jehoshaphat’s army and Jehoshaphat knew that his army was no match for them. When he got word that these armies were approaching Judah, he was alarmed and his response was to pray to God. His prayer is a lesson in trusting God in hard times.
Here is the text of Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
“Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6-12)
What we learn about praying to God in hard times from Jehoshaphat’s prayer
Broadly speaking, we can break Jehoshaphat’s prayer down into these categories:
- Praise God for who he is.
- Remember what God has done for you in the past.
- Ask for what you need.
- Wait on the LORD and yield to God’s will.
Jehoshaphat starts by praising God for who he is: the “God of our ancestors”, the God who is in heaven, ruler of kingdoms, powerful and mighty…. These are all attributes of God that Jehoshaphat will be relying on in asking for help.
After praising God, Jehoshaphat recalls what God has done in the past, driving out the inhabitants of this land and protecting the people of Israel. Recalling God’s faithfulness in the past, and remembering answered prayer and fulfilled promises, makes it easier to trust God in the present. We trust him now because we remember when he came through for us before.
Jehoshaphat asks God for the help that he needs. He tells God about the situation before him and asks God to be the judge.
Finally, Jehoshaphat closes his prayer that “our eyes are on you”. He waits for God’s response, looking to God for help. In closing his prayer by saying that they do not know what to do but that their eyes are on God, Jehoshaphat is placing his trust in God and also yielding to God’s will. He recognizes that his help will come from God, he is waiting on God, and he is giving up control. He is yielding his own will to God’s.
A Prayer for Trusting God in Hard Times
This is an excellent model for praying to trust God in hard times:
- Praise God for who he is, recognizing especially the attributes of God that you need to rely upon in your current situation.
- Remember what God has done for you in the past and use those answered prayers and fulfilled promises to help you to trust God in the present.
- Ask God for what you need. Tell him what is going on in your life and what challenges you are facing.
- Acknowledge that it is God’s will that will be done, and wait on Him for an answer. Keep your eyes on God and trust that he will come through.
Remember also that God’s answers are not always “yes”, and that he answers prayers sometimes in ways that we do not expect. God knows the whole story and thus his perspective is different than ours. God answered Jehoshaphat’s prayer and helped the people of Judah to victory. But years later, trouble came again. The people of Israel, before Jesus came, were expecting a political savior to bring peace and to overthrow their oppressors. What God did in Jesus was totally unexpected, bringing to Israel not worldly power but victory, and salvation from death and from evil, in the long run. God’s answers and God’s plan are not always what we expect.
Sovereign God, Creator of all things, you know the depth and the breadth of the whole universe. You know the details of my life, down to the number of hairs on my head. Where I see only a small part of the picture, you see the whole story from beginning to end. Help me to trust you when I feel afraid, or insecure, or lost and alone. Remind me that you are always with me and that you have great plans for my life. Help me to trust that you will work all things together for good, that you will redeem and restore even the most broken parts of the world, and that you hold me in your loving care. Amen.