My prayer life while in the mission field has been like a roller coaster ride. I call the mission field the “upside down world”, where things are done so differently from home, and our experiences are often extraordinary and rather scary.
When I accepted Jesus into my life as a teenager, my prayers mostly took the form of requests to God. I seldom said “holy” prayers in which I asked God to change me, to use me or to send me.
Since we entered the “upside down world” in 2008, my prayer life has taken a sharp turn. I found myself questioning, reasoning with, and even doubting Him in my prayers. This was especially true when I was asked to be a song leader in our newly-planted Thai church. I struggled and wrestled, giving God 10,000 valid reasons as to why I could not do it.
However, He answered, “You CAN do it, but only if we do it together. Not you, but Me. Not what you can do but what I can do through you.”
Time and again, He pushed me over the edge by giving me tasks I could not do alone and by telling me to love and forgive the unlovable. In those scary and seemingly unfair moments, I wrestled with Him. In those times, His still, small voice spoke while His mighty hands worked miracles.
Over the years, I have learnt to be more honest with God in my prayers. There were days when my emotions would run wild, especially when I was wronged or betrayed. I would go: “Lord, rain sulphur from heaven to destroy them all! Change them to a pillar of salt or let the fire of hell devour them.” Looking back, are we not glad that our God does not always answer all our prayers? He is sovereign!
There were seasons that my prayers were streams of tears—no words, no requests, no “Hallelujah Lord”, just tears. Tears of anger, of fear, of anguish, of “until when?” and of “why not?”. Of course, there were also tears of joy and comfort. On bleak and dull days, these tears became my prayers. Yet He always acted, without fail.
One’s prayer life is a journey, whether you live in the “upside down world” or not. You do not need to be stout-hearted. However, you do need to enter the wrestling ring with Him. It is in wrestling that God comes near and becomes real to us.
Sharon Loo and her husband Daniel are missionaries serving in Thailand. Their home church is Charis Methodist Church.
This article was first published in Harvest Force 2019 issue 2. Reprinted with permission.
Photos courtesy of Sharon Loo