(The late-night phone call relays the tragic news that a cherished member of the church has died unexpectedly. A woman knocks on your office door and tearfully reports that her husband is gone, and she doesn't know if he's coming back--or if she even wants him back. A seminary student asks you to pray about the inoperable tumor discovered in his brain.
They all want you to pray. But the words of prayer don't come easily at such times.
What should you ask God to do in such situations? What do you say in the presence of deep suffering? What words do you use when you don't know how or what to pray?
We asked former pastor Steve Harper, one of the co-founders of The Shepherd's Care, Inc. (a resource ministry designed to help pastors cope with the pressures of ministry) and recently a professor of spiritual formation at Asbury Theological Seminary, to help explain the ministry of prayer in seemingly hopeless situations.)
When I haven't known how to pray, I've often asked the person, "How ...1