How to Persevere When Prayer Takes You to Hard Places

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6 (NKJV)

Prayer is the answer. We’ve heard this many times and we believe it, too. We know God is faithful. We know He answers. We work hard on our prayer lives and then, out of the blue, it hits us – something really hard. It’s true, sometimes prayer takes us places we’d really rather not be.

We particularly see this in our personal life when we are asking to be set free form the things that hold us back. Sometimes, to work through the setting free, God has to take us into some very unexpected places.

As we get closer to Him through prayer and become more aware of how He is working and speaking to us it’s very possible we might find ourselves dealing with any of the following issues:

fear or anxiety
anger or bitterness
jealousy or envy
deep regret
extended sadness or feeling depressed

You prayed hard with faith that He answers, and this doesn’t sound like a list of answered prayers, does it?

Even in the midst of a really satisfying and focused prayer life, even when we are asking God to set us free to be all we were created to be, even in our belief that He is doing that, we can still be led to these dark places.
Here are a few reactions you may have if you unexpectedly find yourself in one of those difficult places.

  • You may find yourself wanting to quit praying altogether. It’s hard when you have spent time developing a good prayer life and have worked on a closer walk with God and then you just find yourself sloshing through negative emotions and buckets full of stuff you never realized were part of your life in the first place.
  • You might want to deny that these things have anything to do with you, especially if you deal with perfectionism. Perfect wants you to see those things in other people, but not in yourself. It’s a huge tactic of the enemy and unfortunately it is an area where he is often a winner.
  • And yes, you might even find yourself angry with God. It’s true. We do get angry with Him, even when we don’t want others to know that. You may be questioning him and flailing your fist in the air at Him. He knows. He understands. Having strong emotions is no sin, but what we do with them can become sinful if we are not careful.

So what’s a girl to do when she finds herself in these places?

When you find yourself dealing with the unexpected and hard, it is important to remember that even when we don’t understand our situation, God does.

When you find yourself dealing with the unexpected and hard, it is important to remember that even when we don’t understand our situation, God does. Click To Tweet

If you are asking why you are in such a low place, consider these things:

As we pray, God begins to reveal. We are His precious and beautiful daughters, deeply cared for and loved. Because He loves us so much, He wants us to see what we need to cast off and let go of. We have no knowledge of our need to work through these kinds of issues unless He reveals to us that we have a problem in the first place. It can be quite surprising to find ourselves in the midst of any of the issues I mentioned above because we don’t easily see these things in ourselves.

Prayer reveals the root of the issue. Tony Evans states this so well when he says, “Whatever is, has, or will go on in your life is rooted first in the spiritual realm.” As we pray about our problems and issues, the Holy Spirit will reveal the spiritual issues behind them. When we can finally get through to the spiritual issues, we are able to deal with the root of our problems. When we realize the root of the problem, we have found the place where true change can take place.

With that understanding, here are some practical steps to take when you find yourself inside any of the hard places listed above.

  • Narrow your focus. Try hard to fix your eyes on Jesus. When you are looking to Him, you are looking at the One who holds the answers. He can give you the strength to keep going and to keep pushing through the tough spots.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord. I will wait for the God of salvation.  My God will hear me. Micah 7:7 (ESV)

  • Keep praying faithfully as you push through your difficulty. Sometimes, this is the last thing you will feel like doing. Praying through the hard stuff often involves a LOT of waiting which can make sticking with prayer all the more difficult. However, it can help to remember that God is preparing us, changing us on the inside, and getting us to the root of our problem. He is helping us grow which gets us ready for the answer He wants to give us. He’s a big God who can do great things! We must persevere to get to the better place He has in store for us.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

  • Get united in prayer. Find someone you can trust to confide in and ask them to pray for you.

…Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 (ESV)

  • Don’t forget who you are. You are a Daughter of the King, precious and loved. He wants the best for you. He sees the big picture that you can’t see. He takes you through hard things to build your character and to refine you.

The King’s daughter is all glorious within. Psalm 48:13a (NASB)

Walking through these places on our journey where we can barely see the road in front of us is really difficult, but there is a better place we are headed toward when we are walking with Jesus. Psalm 126:5-6 tells us that we may go out weeping, but we will return rejoicing, our hands full of the harvest of our hard work and perseverance.

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6 (NKJV)

If we persevere, we will come through on the other side. It is then that we will be able to understand and see more clearly. And because of His unceasing love and gentleness, we often find Him completing that picture by allowing us to be able to reach out, take the hand of someone behind us, and help them through it too.



Focus Verses

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

You can go to Bible Gateway to study Romans 5:3-4 in-depth. Click HERE to get to the correct page. 

But as for me, I will look to the Lord. I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Micah 7:7 (ESV)

You can go to Bible Gateway to study Micah 7:7 in-depth. Click HERE to get to the correct page.

Let’s Talk
Persevering is hard. What strategies do you use to keep you going through hard times?

Next Week
Next week we will be beginning a blog series on finding our identity. We’ll spend a week or two discussing that topic and then we’ll spend a few more weeks learning practical ways to overcome when we find ourselves in an “identity crisis.”

This post may be linked in these locations. Click HERE to see where.

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Prayer can be difficult and sometimes it takes us to places we’d rather not be. Read more to discover some practical steps you can take to keep persevering through the hard places.

24 thoughts on “How to Persevere When Prayer Takes You to Hard Places

  1. I’m so thankful for finding this. I’m part of a small intercession prayer group and while you are addressing personal perseverance in prayer it definitely applies to prayer battle for others. We have been faithfully meeting for four years and we all have grown immensely in our prayer life. We are thrilled having God answering prayer and our spiritual eyes opened by His choice of answer. Never presuppose how He will answer nor in what time frame He will answer. We have had answers within hours while other prayers have been prayed for all four years without an answer received yet. That is where perseverance comes in. We started our group to pray for an end to the high number of suicides every year in our small communities. We offer up praises of thanksgiving to our faithful Father for an end to that. We now battle the spiritual realm as the Evil One sends his cohorts to take lives in a different way. We must always stay diligent and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance of how to pray and what for. Thank you for your teaching on prayer. May we all stay vigilant.

    1. Sheryl, I so appreciate you sharing your story here. It encourages me so much as I’m sure it will encourage others. Perseverance is so hard, but we know the Lord is with us! He’ll reward our perseverance and give us the strength to keep lifting up prayers, even when we don’t see the answers right away. And yes, may we all stay vigilant! Blessings!

  2. Leslie, this article is tremendous! ” Getting to the root…….” I just read a devotional about being honest when we pray. That really struck me. What, in Jesus eyes, does honesty look like? Your writing revealed more on that. Trusting Jesus to show me more.

    1. Hi Mary! I am so glad this helped you! God’s timing is amazing, isn’t it? I just love it when He takes two different things and uses them in combination to help or impact us. Thank you for sharing that! Blessings!

  3. Great post Leslie! So insightful and comprehensive. Feels like you helped identify the potential problem as well as what to expect may happen next. You lay out the steps to take if we recognize ourselves in this situation (which I did) . Really enjoyed this:)

    1. Thanks for reading, Gretchen. Yes, this post all came out of finding myself in that situation multiple times over the years. The Lord is good. He helps us through it! Blessings!

  4. Most of the time when we pray, we have a definite idea about what we want God to say in response. When He doesn’t do that, the temptation is to quit or ignore how He IS answering. But if we truly believe that God is the giver of only good things, then we also have to trust Him when He says things we may not want to hear…. knowing that He is ultimately leading us to good places, if we will choose to follow even the path is in a different direction than we’d like.

  5. Leslie,

    This is meaty stuff here, good good good! It seems the Lord is compelling His people all the more to PRAY. I’m talking about prayer this week too. And indeed when we pray he reveals. When he reveals, we can begin to heal. Even though the reveal may sting, when we persevere, we make way for our healing. Happy to join you from #raralinkup

    1. Tyra, Thank you so much for stopping by! Oh I do feel that, too – that the Lord is laying prayer on the hearts of His Daughters and Sons. I will stop by and see you this week and look forward to reading your thoughts! Blessings!

  6. And, sometimes those hard places can also be such places of contentment. I think when we get outside of ourselves and know we can’t answer our own prayers, it releases us of the need to control, and gives us peace. What a gift prayer is. — I just wrote a little post on prayer, too. 🙂 (It will publish on Thursday.) — Thanks for sharing, Leslie. ((grace upon grace))

    1. Brenda, I love this. It is hard for me to remember that the hard places are also a place of contentment. That’s a beautiful thought! Prayer is such a gift and such a relief when we can do the letting go you spoke of. I will go look for your post on Thursday! Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts! Blessings!

  7. Once again I am rereading and rereading this good message! I’m glad you pointed out that sometimes things get worse before they get better. That encourages me to hold on and not give up. Also, I’ve heard TD Jakes talk about how sometimes the answers to our prayers don’t look anything like what we are expecting. I’m also glad you remind us that we are daughters of the King! And He is all good all the time!

    1. Hi Gwen, All the time, He is good! Thank you for your comments and thoughts. You are so right. God’s answers look very different than what we expect. I love that reminder today! Thank you!!

  8. I’ve been praying about something for awhile and I confess that I do grow weary with it because I don’t see change. So thanks for the encouragement here to continue praying! “Narrow your focus” is a particularly good piece of advice for me today. Thanks, Leslie.

    1. Lisa, I constantly have to remember to narrow my focus and try to look at Jesus instead of the things that are bothering me. I’m glad you found this encouraging. That blesses my heart! Thank you for stopping by and for commenting!

    1. Tammy, Thank you for your kind words. I find that you are encouraging me right back! I’m so thankful for the wisdom we find in God’s Word! Blessings!

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