How to pray when fear is close and God is far

God sometimes feels far away when we are in a mess.

Why is it God often seem distant in the middle of trouble? Often, when we’re struggling, he seems silent.

I remember crying out to God when my six-week-old twins were diagnosed with meningitis, when I discovered a lump, when my son faced his second emergency surgery in two weeks, wondering if God was there with me.

God hadn’t turned his back. He’s always close. Yet, it felt like he was a long way off.

Fear, it seemed, kept me from knowing his presence.

fearI pleaded for a good outcome, but I feared I hadn’t reached the bottom of the pit.

When we are in a mess, our fear tells us God is far. But we can reach out to him in prayer and feel his nearness

I begged for relief, but I worried I had further to fall.

I dreaded what could be ahead—that the meningitis would leave my babies deaf and brain damaged, that the other “spots” found would mean more than a lumpectomy, that my son would not survive the surgery.

Fear stopped me hearing:

“even though you walk through the darkest valley, I am with you, I will never leave you, no harm will come to you.” (Psalm 23:4, Psalm 91:10, Deuteronomy 31:8)

So how do we pray when fear is close and God seems far?

Recognize it’s normal for God to feel distant in the middle of your storm. The writers of the Psalms certainly felt the same way. Then, we are told numerous times throughout scripture, to not be afraid because God is with you.

As the waves crashed and the wind roared, the disciples panicked, even though they had the One who controlled the storm right there with them.

So, do not feel ashamed of being afraid.

Tell God about your fears, even if you only manage the words “I’m scared.” The disciples woke Jesus when they were afraid of drowning.

Use the words of David, like Jesus, and make them your prayer:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

Then, along with the Psalmist, hold onto God’s promises.


“Lord you have promised to be close when I am brokenhearted. I’m feeling wretched right now. You promise to save me when I am crushed in spirit.”

“You, God, do not say I won’t have troubles, in fact your words says I will have many troubles—right now I have a lot. But, you do promise to deliver me from them all. Even though I don’t feel it right now, I am holding onto you doing just that.”

Finally, as you pray remember God’s goodness to you in the past. This will give you hope for your current trouble. Tell God you are relying on his goodness again.

My husband and I spent long hours in the waiting room while our son had his second emergency surgery. A straightforward appendectomy had become an abscess and his insides were a gooey mess. As soon as he emerged, we followed him into the intensive care unit. We sat in the shadows as he came round from the anesthesia and watched as the nurse administered pain relief. For the ten days he was in hospital we took turns being in his room from early morning until he fell asleep at night.

If we as parents will do everything possible to be close to our children when they are in need, how much more will our perfect heavenly Father do the same for us?

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  1. Rebecca L Jones

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