Prayer, Creativity & Faith

When our problems are too big for God

Praying for YOU is easy.

If you come to me and ask for prayer, these are the words I will have for you:
All things are possible. God is a healer. Hold tight to your faith. Just believe.

I will carry your request to God, believing He can do anything. And that He will.


It’s easy enough to pray for my friends. I don’t even hesitate.

But for me?

Sometimes the only words that will come are ugly, insidious whispers:
You are not enough.
You don’t deserve what you want.
You haven’t been faithful enough.
You haven’t trusted Him enough.
He’s not going to come through for you, so don’t get your hopes up.

It’s a form of self-flagellation at its worst. Beating myself up and living in the assurance that because of all of my failures, God, too, will fail. Or, at the very least, will fail to act.

It’s a cruel torture that leaves a mark as surely as a whip would do.

Many months ago, I found a lump in my breast. Instead of a regular mammogram, they scheduled me for a high-res, diagnostic ultrasound. I had to wait longer to get in. And I knew, I just knew, that the best thing I could hope for would be an assurance that “it’s probably nothing, but we need to do a biopsy.” I figured I’d have to schedule a procedure or two. And wait. And wait a little more.

Instead of leaning on God, I snapped at my husband. Criticized everything in sight. And tried and tried to pray, but all I could manage was, “Dear Lord,” before I’d stop.

Stumped. Afraid. Before I’d dwell on the fact that Mom died of cancer. That my dad had cancer. That my sister’s best friend died from breast cancer. That one in eight women will get it. And that there’s no reason in the world why that should not be me.

As I sat in that waiting room, with the little pink shirt-gown on, while my technician prepared the machine, I couldn’t focus.

I finally cried.
And I was so afraid.
Too afraid to really pray.

So I tried to block out all of my thoughts with a simple melody. The melody to Hallelujah (You Never Let Go), sung by Jeremy Camp came into my mind, and I thought-sang-prayed, You are with me, Hallelujah. You are with me, Hallelujah…

And I let those words push away my fears.
I let them drown out the what-ifs and oh-nos.

It’s so easy to forget God is with us. That He. Is. Right. There. With. Us.

No matter what we feel. No matter where we go. So I just kept repeating that chorus. Until I believed it.

Felt it. Rested in it.

After the ultrasound, the radiologist assured me that there is nothing there. It’s normal fibrous breast tissue. No cyst, no tumor. Nothing. I’m fine. I could have sighed with relief and moved on, like we often do, forgetting about it now that I’m past the scary part.

But the situation got me thinking.

I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer (so much so that I wrote a book about it). And if I still have my moments of doubt, if I still think that maybe God will come through for everyone else but not listen to me, then many of you probably feel that way, too.

What if, just for today, we let ourselves pray as though God is everything we want Him to be?

Everything that we think He is or should be?

What if we prayed full of belief?

What if we stopped torturing ourselves for our failings?

What if God shows up?

What if this is the moment when everything will change?

What if I can summon as much faith for myself as I can summon for you?

What miracles do you suppose we’d see?

Let’s find out.

Originally published at

12 Responses to “When our problems are too big for God”

  1. Robin says:

    Thank you SO much for this! And I’m glad that your scare was nothing to be concerned about.

    • Thanks, Robin. I almost feel bad posting it—sure, I was frightened, but nothing bad happened. And so many people face big, scary things all the time. But I think people need to know that we all have our moments, and they’re no less real just because they turned out fine 🙂

  2. Nicola Walters says:

    Totally refreshing!

  3. Chris Monahan (@iceczar) says:

    yes, Yes, YES! I rarely pray for me because I am blessed, so how can I ask for more?
    Also, sometimes it feels selfish and I taught myself to do for others first (and second and third).
    And finally, even though He forgives my sins, I don’t always, so how can I ask my Father for something when I KNOW I don’t deserve it.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom, sweet lady, even though WE don’t deserve it 😉
    And I echo Robin’s sentiment: so glad to hear you’re well, relatively speaking.

    P.S. The song I try to hear is No Longer Slaves, particularly “I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.:”

    • Love that song, too. A really good one for these moments. I hear what you are saying about praying—but Jesus said to pray about everything. That includes you :-). I believe we can ALWAYS ask for more of God, to know Him more deeply, to praise Him for what He’s already done—even if we’re not asking for anything else. Thank you for your ongoing encouragement. You are such a blessing to me.

  4. Chris F says:

    Perfect timing & your words are a super blessing to me. My husband & I are waiting for more test results, etc. about how the oncologist will guide him as to the next treatment option. He’s had 3 yrs after IL-2 treatment before this distant met showed up 2 mo ago. He was diagnosed 3 1/2 yrs ago with stage 4 kidney cancer with metastasis. Of course we pray for complete healing, but our doubt has its grip on us. Thank you Kelly for your honesty & transparency. You are a gift to many!

    • Chris, saying a prayer for you and your husband as I type this. Lord, let them feel your presence. Let them know your healing power. Let them see You in every moment, hear You in the words that are spoken, breathe You in with each breath they take. Unlike some people, I don’t think doubt is bad—in fact, I praise You for the times of doubt because You have always used them to strengthen my faith. Use this time to reveal Yourself more fully to Chris and her husband. Yes, Lord, we ask for healing. But more than anything, we ask for You to be with them, to be with me, to be with all of us. To somehow lead us and carry us through. To somehow comfort and strengthen and encourage us. To be the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipotent One. We praise Your name! Amen.

  5. missie b says:

    you know my thoughts on this subject. thank you for sharing yours. no fear or doubt will keep God from loving us and hearing our prayers. we may need to be reminded of this on a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis. but, it is the truth! God’s truth. I read in my bible today and underlined this portion of matthew 14:36, “and all who touched him were healed.” I’m resting in this today. I don’t always get past, “heavenly Father” either. I believe God knows what is on our hearts and what we are trying to convey to Him. “Heavenly Father” is like my touch at the hem of his clothing. He knows what I am asking for before I can form the words and He heals. Praise God for that!

  6. Sara L M says:

    God gives me the worst. we have no control of the people we meet in life, or some of the events. Its all dowm to this so called god. And what a cruel god it is.

    • Kelly O'Dell Stanley says:

      Sara, I’m sorry you feel that way. I think all of us feel like that sometimes, if we’re honest. But I believe with all my heart that God is inherently good, and that He does not do things with a mean spirit or cruel intentions. Sometimes we have to deal with things that aren’t good, just because in the natural world there are consequences (not as punishment, but just because that’s how things work). In other words, the bad things aren’t *from” God; they just are what they are. I think God has our best interests at heart, and gives us opportunities to find those, if we keep our eyes wide open and look for Him. Thanks for writing, and I hope things start to look up for you. I’m praying for you right now.

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