How to Pray Even When It Seems Hopeless

How to Pray Even When It Seems Hopeless

It was only eight o’clock in the morning. I already drove my children to school and was back home. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. And just before heading to my weekly Holy Hour, I checked my calendar and email.

I noticed a message I was waiting for, hoping for. And so I opened it.

Immediately, my heart sank. The good news I anticipated turned out to be disappointing. It was not a congratulatory email; it was a rejection. Instead of “yes,” it was “no.”

I started to cry. Rejection stings.

I felt so incredibly hopeless. I did not really know what to do next, what to think, where to go, how to process it.

And then I remembered: Jesus was waiting for me in the Adoration Chapel.

Pray Anyway

As I drove to church, I did not feel like praying. But I made a commitment to be at the chapel from 9-10 a.m. every Tuesday morning. So, someone was depending on me to take her place.

Plus, Jesus was there. He was waiting for me.

As I settled into the pew, I gazed at Our Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a wave of peace washed over me. He saw me. He knew. Before I said a word, He knew it all. And He gazed upon me with love and acceptance, not rejection.

As I began praying, I was led to this Scripture passage:

… in him it is always ‘Yes.’ For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God. // 2 Corinthians 1:19-20

After receiving such disappointing news—a definite “no”—I turned to the Lord, and His response was “yes.”

Yes to my existence.

Yes to my gifts.

Yes to my purpose.

Yes to my belonging to Him.

“… in him it is always ‘Yes.’”

Christ’s Peace Surpasses Understanding

And in that prayerful moment, I was able to surrender my disappointment to the Lord and entrust my hurt to Him. I felt peace, even in the midst of such devastating news. Even though I was uncertain about the future and God’s will for me, I knew with all my heart that I belonged to Him.

This experience helped me realize how important it is to pray during times of disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, and uncertainty.

Looking back, I could have responded in so many ways to my bad news. I could have spent the rest of the morning scrolling through social media, going through the drive-through line, shopping, or keeping busy with mindless activities.

But all of those other coping mechanisms would have only been escapism. None of them would have brought me to the Lord, and I certainly would not have felt His peace or heard His words of comfort and assurance.

Prayer Tethers Us to Christ

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “prayer is a vital necessity.” And it is especially vital when life feels hopeless.

Prayer is not a magic bullet that instantly fixes our problems, changes our circumstances, or heals our sufferings. But prayer keeps us tethered to the Lord—the Mighty One, the Author of Life, the Divine Physician. And when we are tethered to Him, He transforms our outlook and emotions. We remember we are not alone, as we receive His grace, hear His Word, and feel His love.

Holy Mother Church Shows Us the Way

We only need to turn to Holy Mother Church for wisdom, guidance, and encouragement in the importance of praying when prayer seems hopeless. Below is a list of Scriptures to pray, Church teachings to implement, and saintly wisdom to ponder. These treasures from Heaven remind us that when prayer feels hopeless, all we really need is to run to Jesus and entrust it (over and over) to Him.

Scriptures to Pray

  • Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. // 1 Chronicles 16:11
  • … the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. // Job 1:21
  • The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. // Psalm 145:18
  • Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. // Jeremiah 19:12
  • Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. // James 5:13
  • And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. // 1 John 5:14

Church Teachings to Implement

“But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or ‘out of the depths’ of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2559)

“The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2560)

“… we pray not to remind God or tell Him of what we need, but to acknowledge that He is the Supreme Giver, to adore and worship Him by showing our entire dependence upon Him …” (Baltimore Catechism, lesson 28)

“Prayer is a vital necessity … How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2744)

“Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2616)

Saintly Wisdom to Ponder

  • Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God … // St. John Damascene
  • Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. // St. Thérèse of Lisieux
  • Reach up as high as you can today, and God will reach down the rest of the way. // St. Pio of Pietrelcina
  • You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him. // St. Teresa of Avila
  • Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy. // St. John Chrysostom
  • Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness. // St. John Chrysostom

How have you found prayer helpful during a hopeless situation?

This was originally published on the Blessed Is She blog.

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