Failure in Prayer: Can there be Anything Good to Say about That?

Failure in Prayer: Can there be Anything Good to Say about That?

So. Just last week I wrote about an encouraging example of how praying with the Sunday school kids I teach pays off. I felt pretty good about myself. I was eager to pray more.

Then this week I had an “incident” in class. A kid was goofing off and fell and sprained his wrist.

As soon as it happened, I could tell he was hurt enough that someone should get his mom. The problem was that I happened to be without a classroom helper at that moment and couldn’t immediately find another adult either to watch my class or to fetch the mom. We try to avoid such situations, but they happen. I eventually worked it out and the kid will be fine, but for a moment we had some anxiety in that classroom. There was a hurt kid to comfort, uncertainty about the extent of his injury, and no one nearby to help—not to mention my own worry that someone might blame me for a kid getting hurt on my watch.

With all that anxiety in the air, did I think to pray? Nope. It never occurred to me.

Sometimes I’m just a faithless lunkhead.

Yes, faithless. One of the surest signs of faith is the instinct to pray about a problem rather than just trying to work it out on one’s own. But my instinct was only to trust my own ability to solve the problem, and that’s what I indirectly taught to my class by how I handled the incident while they were watching. I failed to model faith. I never prayed. Even after the mom arrived, I never thought to pray that my student’s wrist would feel better. It was foolish of me.

Can there be anything good to say about this? Only one thing: despite my faithlessness, I may still pray next time. Despite my arrogant failure (and this is far from the first time I’ve botched an opportunity to pray), my Father still welcomes me to come to him. God designed prayer for people who’re bad at praying.

The Bible says believers have access to the Father through Jesus. His spotless record, not my tainted one, is what gives me the right to pray. I and the kids I teach pray in Christ and with the Spirit’s help. God knows we struggle to pray. He’s not snorting in disapproval; he’s eager to help us.

On Sunday I will be back with those kids. I expect there will be a still-healing wrist to pray for. I’m thankful that we may turn to God in faith, even a week late.


Thoughts? Please share or comment below. I love feedback and discussion—it’s how we learn from each other!

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