We all face discouragement and disappointment. The following interactive prayer can help us get past our disappointment and go on with our mission.
How to do this prayer practice:
1. Allow yourself to admit you’re discouraged. The truth is everyone gets discouraged. In fact, the greater the desire in your heart to help others, the more discouraged we can get especially when we know we have such a wonderful gift for people – the gift of knowing our loving Savior – and they don’t seem to be interested. People who don’t have callings and ministries don’t understand how exciting and rewarding making progress with God’s love is and how disappointing and discouraging it is when things interfere, whether it be outside life complications or mental attacks from the negative things people say, interference from evil or the lack of responsiveness from those we hope to reach.
2. Follow Jesus. One day when I was really discouraged about a very small turn out at a Sunday evening prayer service I wondered how Jesus handled disappointment. I read in Mark 6:6 how the people in Jesus’ hometown didn’t think he could even be a prophet, much less the Messiah. Mark says he was amazed by their lack of faith.
I don’t think amazed is really the right word. I think that Jesus was extremely disappointed because the exact opposite of what he had hoped would take place happened. Their disinterest and rejection rendered everything He wanted to do for them completely ineffective. It says in Mark 6:5,6, “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
3. Pray about your next step. We can’t go back to Nazareth and ask Jesus what he did to help himself get over this disappointment? What the Bible does record is what Jesus did next. He went on to other villages. He didn’t let the discouragement stop Him.
Not only that, but he decided to multiply the number of villages he could cover by sending out the disciples two by two to reach even a wider audience. When sending them out, Jesus gave instructions to his disciples about what to do when people didn’t respond. He told them to shake the dust off their feet and go on to a place where people were more receptive. Obviously Jesus knew that the disciples would face disappointment and discouragement. He tells them to not let this stop them. He tells them to simply go on with their mission.
4. Use this outline to form an interactive prayer with Jesus about your disappointment.
Dear Jesus, I thank you that you came to earth and lived as we do and experienced the same things that we go through. Surely you were discouraged when the people in your hometown rejected you and you weren’t able to do any miracles or help them or heal them.
Jesus, today I am very disappointed by _______________________.
(Describe your disappointment to Him: Who, what, when, where…)
Jesus, this is what I had hoped would happen:
(Tell Him specifically what you expected would happen that didn’t work out.)
Jesus, this is how I feel:
(Tell Him how you feel: depressed, discouraged, perplexed, sad, lost, alone, scared, worn out, angry, resentful, like giving up, like giving in, like you’re unappreciated, rejected, mistreated, etc.)
Jesus, please give me rest and comfort.
Find somewhere you can be alone with Him, read the scriptures, meditate, take a walk, have a friend pray with you, listen to what He would like to say to you, etc.
Jesus, I don’t want this discouragement to keep me from the things you have put on my heart to do.
Jesus, show me the next step or to give me the strength to stand firm, continue on, give me a promise or scripture to cling to, give me fresh perspective.…
Jesus, I count this setback as one of the costs of being your disciple.
Jesus, help me to accept what has happened. I believe that you will eventually give me perspective on how I have grown in obedience or determination or how this experience will be useful when I’m trying to encourage and help someone else in their time of discouragement.
Jesus, I thank you for loving me and being here for me and accepting me as someone who can partner with you in your work here on earth.
My personal experiences and tips.
I have to constantly pray because I can easily become discouraged trying to show others the great joy and power of prayer. Numbers are often very low at prayer meetings. I’ve had people say things that are really negative to me about prayer itself and I’ve ached for people to respond.
One time I was sitting at a table at a Wednesday night supper trying to get enough people signed up for a 48 hour prayer vigil for a church visioning retreat. I asked a young mother with her 5 year old child if she might be able to sign up for a prayer time. The woman got an annoyed look on her face and said to the little boy in answer to me, “Sonny, we don’t have time to pray, do we?” I was flabbergasted by the message the woman was sending to the boy and also my heart ached for the woman whose life was obviously so out of control with too many obligations. Yet she she was rejecting the one thing that could help her! I had to allow her to pass on by because of the choice she had made.
I was discouraged and suddenly filling out slots on a 48 hour prayer vigil seemed absolutely impossible. However I continued trying and despite my there were slots that went unfilled. I had to focus on the number of people who did pray, not the ones who didn’t.
Copyright Karen Barber 2011