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Bible Study

The Heart Cry of Desperate Prayer

By Sandra Higley

My pastor and I met to pray before visiting a woman from our church who was dealing with intense spiritual warfare issues. This wasn’t our first time to meet with her, and we felt as if we were scrambling blindfolded through a long maze of tunnels to discern what information from her background might hold a key to her deliverance. My pastor, in particular, was battling self-doubt. He wondered if he could help the woman in her dark and seemingly hopeless situation.

As we prayed together, he cried out to God in desperation, admitting his feelings of inadequacy and asking for the Lord’s guidance. Suddenly, he stopped praying, opened his eyes, and said, “Kite string.” “Kite string?” I asked. “What about kite string?”

“The Lord just gave me a mental picture of a ball of wadded-up kite string—and that He isn’t going to show us all at once how to unravel the problem. But as we untie one knot, it will lead us to the next, and then the next. Kite string!”

A sense of peace settled over us as we knocked on the woman’s door about 30 minutes later. She welcomed us, showed us to her dining room table, and told us to grab a seat and make ourselves comfortable. My pastor pulled out the chair closest to him. There, in the middle of his chair, was a big, wadded-up ball of kite string!

Our hostess was dismayed that her grandchild had neglected to put away this unsightly ball of string, leaving it behind for her guest to find. Then she became confused when tears began streaming  down my pastor’s face and we both sat there, beaming, repeating over and over, “Kite string!”

My pastor’s desperate prayer for help elicited God’s signal that He heard and was on the job!

Discussion Questions

Think of times you have been desperate in prayer. Name situations, emotions, or desires that led to that desperation: ______________________________

Maybe desperate prayer is not something you are comfortable with. Cynthia Bezek recalls a time when she thought her prayers were supposed to be “nice, polite, and controlled.” Then God showed her some of the raw desperation of David’s prayers. “Apparently God wasn’t offended by David’s desperate honesty,” she comments. What words would best describe your own prayer experiences? Does it vary? Do you tend to be bold in your desperation prayers? Or are you inclined to pray in a more reserved, polite approach?  ______________________________

If the mannerly, controlled approach is more your “style,” why do you think you hold back from “being real” when you talk to God? ______________________________ 

Discuss what situations led to the prayer(s) in each and what emotions were experienced or are implied during the prayer:

Jacob (Gen. 32:9–12, 22–32)  ______________________________
Moses (Ex. 33:15–16) ______________________________ 
Hannah (1 Sam. 1) ______________________________
Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:1–6) ______________________________ 
Job (Job 10:1–7, 18–22) ______________________________ 
David (Ps. 13:1–2, 22:1–2, 31:10) ______________________________ 
Jesus (Matt. 26:36–44; Heb. 5:7, NLT) ______________________________ 

Read the following Scriptures. Identify anything that makes you think God was not offended by the raw desperation He heard from these people as they prayed: Gen. 32:29; Ex. 33:11; 1 Sam. 1:19–20; Job 42:8–10; Isa. 38:4–6; Acts 13:22; James 5:11.  ______________________________ 

“When everyone disappears except you and God . . . when it’s just you and Him and nobody else . . . my word for that is desperation,” Rick Padgett reminds us. His poignant story about his friend Ed, who was dying of cancer, provides an example. Someone asked Ed when his doctor was coming, and Ed replied, “The doctor doesn’t come any more. It’s just Jesus and me.” Share your thoughts about that kind of desperation. Have you experienced it before? Can you see benefits to it? ______________________________ 

Jim Jarman indicates that all of us are desperate at one time or another, but in this high-tech era we tend to outsource our desperation to others rather than God. “How often have I turned the car around because I forgot my cell phone? After all, someone may try to reach me. Would I do the same if I forgot my Bible? Why this disparity in our thinking?” Reflect on a time in your life when you felt desperate. To whom did you turn first? Why?  ______________________________ 

When desperate prayers are called for, what things and/or people in your life might be taking God’s rightful place?  ______________________________ 

What changes might you make in that area? Could desperate prayer be one of them? ______________________________ 

Action Steps

Cynthia Bezek encourages us to check the motivation behind our desperate prayers. She reminds us that if we find we seek God’s gifts more than we seek Him, then it’s time to confess that and ask Him to change our hearts.

Take a moment to reflect on each of her questions and ask the Holy Spirit to help you respond with any actions or changes you may need to make:

  • What is behind my desperate prayers?  ___________________________  
  • Why do I want what I want so badly? ___________________________  
  • If God were to answer my most desperate prayers, would I cherish the answers more than I cherish Him? 

SANDRA HIGLEY is an intercessor, author, and editor. She currently works as an editor for David C. Cook Ministries in Colorado Springs, CO.

(c) 2014 Prayer Connect magazine.


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