Prayer during hard times is key to spiritual growth. If you are going to make it through your trial it’s going to take every ounce of faith you have. There will be days when you want to quit, days when you think you are going to lose your mind, and days when you are sure you have reached your limit.
As long as we are on this side of heaven there will be trials and hard times. God is always there but sometimes we feel alone on the journey.
I have personal experience walking through each of these four stages of spiritual growth. The times I’ve spent in prayer during hard times have been the seasons where my faith grew the most. It has not been easy but it has always been well worth the pain and struggles. I like to think of this journey like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.
I’m going to use the life cycle of a butterfly to describe each of the stages of spiritual growth. Let’s see where you may be in your journey.
Before the Journey Begins
You are living life unaware of how hard things really are. Yes, you are struggling with a few things but that’s just a part of life. One day you are doing just fine and the next a spilled cup of cereal sends you over the edge. It’s like the rug has been pulled out from under you and you never saw it coming.
This is typically the point where you begin to try to fix things for yourself. Things can’t really be all that bad; it’s just a bad day or week. If you just figure out where you went wrong then you can correct it and get back on course. There’s just one problem. The more you try to make things right the worse they get.
This is usually the point where you realize you are in over your head. You know that you need to focus on praying during this hard time but you aren’t sure where to start. You aren’t sure how to pray or if God is even listening. You spend a lot of time telling God that you’re giving things over to Him but you also spend just as much time taking them back.
Eventually, you get to the point where you just can’t take it anymore. There’s nothing more you can do so you give up. When you reach your breaking point that’s when God can finally step in and take over.
This is when the journey from despair to deliverance begins.
STAGE ONE: ARISE
(CATERPILLAR EGGS ARE LAID)
This stage is hard. It involves a complete shift in mindset. You have to stop believing the lies about yourself, God, and the enemy. You’ll spend a lot of time crying and questioning everything that you thought you knew about God and His plans for you. This is a great time to start journaling. Write down everything you think you know about God, yourself, the enemy, and your circumstance. Then start reading what the Bible has to say about each one.
I remember when I first started to really understand who God is and what that meant for me and my situation. I was frustrated at all the things I didn’t know. I was angry about the abuse I’d gone through and all the lies I’d been fed about myself and my God. That anger fueled my desire for the truth. The more I learned, the more peace and strength I gained.
When a butterfly lays its eggs you can already see the caterpillar inside. It hasn’t hatched yet but you can already see what it will become. The eggs are also laid on a leaf so that they have what they need to grow when they hatch.
This is the stage where you need to embrace your identity as a prayer warrior. I know that you may not feel like a warrior but you are. You already have everything you need to make it through this trial. God has already equipped you with the weapons you need to win this war.
STAGE TWO: GROW
(THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR)
This stage is characterized by a lot of spiritual growth and biblical disciplines. Once you embrace your identity as a prayer warrior you are ready to learn the basics on prayer during hard times. This is when you need to be in the Word daily, reading, studying and memorizing scripture. This is when you need to be praying daily and reaching out to your community.
Caterpillars don’t stay in this stage for very long. All they do is eat and eat and eat. Preparing for the time when they begin to transform into a butterfly.
I couldn’t get enough of God during this time in my journey. I wanted to read and pray and be in church all the time. The more I learned about God the more I wanted to learn. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. I began to dig really deep into the Truth and I finally started to feel free.
Learning how to study the Word for myself meant that no one could ever use scripture to control or abuse me ever again. Memorizing verses meant that I could stand up to the enemy when he tried to paralyze me with fear. Being a part of a community meant that I was no longer isolated and alone. I found my strength. I found my voice. And I found my fight.
STAGE THREE: FIGHT
(CATERPILLAR GOES INTO A CHRYSALIS AND BEGINS TO TRANSFORM)
I’m going to be really honest here and tell you that stage three is hard. I read somewhere that when a butterfly goes into its chrysalis it has to completely liquify itself as part of the transformation. It becomes completely undone and unrecognizable before it becomes beautiful.
This is the stage where you have to really put up or shut up. Are you going to believe God and stand on His Word or are you going to quit?
This is when you have to face all your demons and doubts. This is when you have to learn to take every thought captive and manage your emotions for good. You have to face your fears, doubts, and feelings of overwhelm and shame.
When things seem to go from bad to worse you have to keep trusting and keep standing. You have to remember all the things you learned in stages one and two. They will carry you through this hard stage. In my experience, stage three lasts the longest. But it’s also where you will see the most growth.
STAGE FOUR: DREAM
(Butterfly Emerges and Flies Away)
This is the stage where you can start to breathe a little. You may still be in the middle of your trial but you are confident that you will have the victory. You know who you are and whose you are. You have conquered your emotions and battled doubts. At this point, you are at peace knowing that God is in control.
You are ready to start dreaming and hoping again! And the sky is the limit. You are not afraid to ask God for the impossible because you know that with Him all things are possible.
My favorite part about this stage is being able to encourage others. Sharing your testimony is a great way to help those who are in the first three stages to keep pressing in and holding on. You can show others how prayer during hard times is key to spiritual growth and victory.