3 Advent Prayers for When You Don't Feel "Merry"
- Malinda Fuller Author
- 2016 28 Nov
Unlike many who boast that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year,” you would have to disagree. No, you are not a Scrooge, nor do you have a great fondness for any other holiday in particular, however, as the decorations come out, Advent calendars are started, and radio stations change to 24/7 Christmas cheer, you find yourself cringing.
Perhaps you were in remission a month ago, but the C word has reared its ugly head and you are heading into the Christmas season with chemo treatments on the calendar instead of caroling. Maybe you're coming out of a bad break-up and the loss of that relationship has devastated you, or you work in the retail world of wish lists, over-spending and returns and exchanges. For others, this is your first Christmas since you physically lost someone… and you're wondering how you could ever celebrate without them.
You hear people wishing you a “Merry Christmas" and you just want to fall apart right there in the front of the department store. Your kids are excited about Elf on the Shelf and getting their chocolate each night of Advent, but you are inwardly groaning. Typically this is your favorite season: Advent—the weeks leading up to the best holiday on the calendar. The beautiful decor, the twinkling lights, the savory food and sweet treats that spill from the kitchen all month long; these have always been things that you’ve looked forward to enjoying—until this year.
The interesting thing about the story of Christmas is that most of the characters were not feeling very “merry” either. As they walked through the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birth two millennia ago, there were many who felt just like you do: forgotten, scared, alone, full of doubt, worried, looked over, rejected, fearful.
The Jewish people were without hope; they lived under Roman oppression and prayed that God would send the Messiah to rescue them from their situation. Mary was a frightened teenager birthing a baby, with the help of a man whom she’d never been intimate with, in a dirty, stinky barn filled with animals—not exactly how she’d imagined bringing her first child into the world. Joseph had just decided to father Mary’s illegitimate child, even though that didn’t make any sense; chances are he probably had a few “Why me, God?” prayers. King Herod was a nervous and paranoid ruler, and the shepherds were the low-class laborers working on Christmas Eve.
In the midst of their suffering and despair, even as doubt and worry flooded their minds, despite what questions loomed, or how unsure of the future they were—Jesus came.
With light for the dark places that we are surrounded by. With hope for those situations that seem hopeless. With joy for the days when there is nothing to smile about. With peace for the circumstances that keep us up at night.
If this is where you find yourself this Christmas season, perhaps one of the following prayers will encourage you:
Father, I need to feel hope.
Even though everywhere I look all I see is despair. My questions and fears are so great that I feel like I’m drowning, yet I know you offer hope. I need you to break through this darkness that surrounds me and remind me of your goodness and faithfulness, of Your plans and Your purpose for my life. Please come and fill my heart with faith again; I want to experience the thrill of hope for myself this advent in a powerful way.
Father, I need to know Your presence.
Please be near. I am tired and weary; I am worn out and full of anxious thoughts, but I know that you came to give me rest. I want to know what a calm and quiet mind feels like in the morning. As I go throughout my day I want to continue to give you my worries and fears and be overwhelmed by the peace that comes from being with you; please help me to relinquish them. Come and stay with me—closer than You have ever been before.
Father, I want to experience Your joy.
The same joy that so many others have experienced. Not a false happiness that is rooted in emotional highs, but a joy that bubbles up from the inside because it is found in you. It is not swayed by situations, and it is contagious in the best way. Restore my joy this Christmas season. Let me understand, with a fresh perspective, what joy it was that You sent to the world.
Jesus came with a thrill of hope. He chose to come near. He brings joy to our hearts and peace to our minds, not because of anything we’ve done to deserve it, but because He can and He wants to.
May the power of the Christmas story overwhelm you in a new way this year, and may your Advent season be marked by simple prayers offered from the hushed places of our hearts.
Malinda Fuller and her husband Alex have served at several churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. and Canada for over a decade. Malinda wields truth and grace through the words on her blog and has also contributed content for Relevant, Thrive Moms and The Influence Network. Malinda and Alex currently reside in Southern California, where they are homeschooling their daughters, working in ministry and trying to not complain about the continuous sunshine.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 28, 2016
This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.