On Grief and Genuine Prayer

Death sharpens the senses. Stars don’t sparkle; they burn. The crescent moon doesn’t arc over unnoticed; it glows, suspended in time over the sparkling dark ocean or the sleeping neighborhood. Like the moon you notice for the first time in a long time, you wish time would rewind and then suspend midair.

Seventeen days ago, an emergency rattled me, and I began to pray unceasingly. I prayed while eating breakfast, while pushing the stroller, while driving to the store, and while washing dishes. I prayed in the quiet moments. I prayed in the busy moments. I prayed like my prayers were medicine.

For those who also prayed, thank you.

Though she slipped away from us, God is good. Though she slipped away, God taught me to pray, and for that I am grateful. I’ve never prayed unceasingly, and at just the right time, God gave me these four words: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

These four words – printed on a Bible study worksheet – revived my relationship with God. I am no stranger to “urgent prayers” or begging God to perform this miracle or that miracle, but these four words rocked me. They reminded me that he is God and I am not.

He is God and I am not.

He is sovereign, awesome, mighty, majestic, hallowed. I fall short of his glory with every heartbeat, and yet his blood is my righteousness. His love covers me and makes me presentable in his presence. All of this compels my spirit to joyfully praise him, and then I humbly ask for his help, for his intervention, for his wisdom. 

Before those four words – before this horrible experience – I skipped to supplication every time. I defaulted to rehearsed prayers or opted out all together. Well, not anymore. I’m done begging irreverently. One day, the cycle of grief will slow, and I’ll be tempted to slip back into the humdrum rhythm of my relationship with God. Well, I don’t want to slip back. Life abounds. It is beautiful and fragile. My senses are sharpened. Stars burn, the moon glows, and the Holy Spirit moves. Do you sense his movement? Friend, pray unceasingly even in fruitful seasons. Pray for the emergencies and the trivialities. It all matters to God. Pray with humility and pray with faith.

The fact that prayer – genuine prayer – changes things is a mystery to me, but it does change things. Even if the changes are not what you expected.



  1. Katie Kyle

    I m so sorry for your loss and so grateful to you for sharing what you’re learning through it. I hope your grief lessens but the stars keep burning, the moon keeps glowing and the Holy Spirit always moves powerfully in your life


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