Standing at the checkout line, I swiped my credit card and waited for the prompt to sign my name. As the woman in front of me scanned my remaining items, she looked at me and said, “Did you marry the man you loved?”
Her face was flat and her voice held no emotion. She could have just as easily said, “Paper or plastic?”
Confused, I asked her to repeat herself. I thought maybe she thought I was someone else she had spoken to before. She asked the question again.
“Yes.” I answered. “Why do you ask?”
She then went on to describe arranged marriages in her native country. With disappointment in her voice, she talked about her own arranged marriage. She spoke with longing about the way marriages are made in the U.S. I listened to her talk more about the custom and why she didn’t think people in her culture should continue the practice.
“You sound lonely.” I remarked. She nodded and then someone came up behind and began placing their items on the belt. She turned her head, ending our conversation.
I left the store saddened. Not because she was married to someone she didn’t love but because she didn’t know the Bridegroom. She didn’t know the One who could fulfill all her loneliness and love her unconditionally. She didn’t know the One who could complete her and make her whole. Because what she needed more than a happy marriage was a relationship with her Savior, Jesus Christ.
So many people are lonely and seek to fill that loneliness in ways that could never fill their need. They think the cure to their loneliness is found in change or things or shallow relationships. Or maybe they seek to fill that void through shopping, social networking, blogging, keeping busy, hobbies, the gym, clubbing, or online games.
Even those of us who are believers find ourselves at times lonely, longing for a deep connection with someone else. The ache of loneliness is so intense, we are immobilized and remain stuck in our sadness. Perhaps the loneliness blinds us to what we already have in Christ.
Hebrews says “let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (4:16). This prayer is for the lonely at heart to seek God at the throne of grace:
Dear Father in Heaven,
I come before you today with a heart heavy with loneliness. I feel like there’s no one who cares, no one with whom I can share the real me. I even feel alone in a crowd of people, like I’m the only one in the room.
Will I ever feel like I belong somewhere? Will I ever feel connected to others? Will I always feel like an outsider?
Even as I pray these words I know I must confess that I’ve forgotten what I know to be true. I’ve forgotten that I am never alone. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death for me, I have become your child. You have adopted me into a forever family. I’m no longer an orphan wandering alone in the wilderness. Because of Jesus, I am part of a family that is as large as the number of stars in the sky. And as your child, I can come to you whenever I want. I have unlimited access to my Abba, my Father.
Forgive me also for trying to fill my loneliness with counterfeit gods, false substitutes, and temporary pleasures. Nothing and no person can fill the void in my heart that was made for you alone.
Help me to seek you in my loneliness. Help me to find my comfort, not in things, but in the love Jesus secured for me at the cross. I know that you will never leave me or forsake me. Help me in my unbelief. Help what I know to be true to be what my heart lives out as truth.
I pray for others who are lonely that you would show them their need for Jesus, the only perfect Friend. Help them to know that he will never leave them, reject them, or turn away from them. I pray that you would use me to encourage the lonely with the love you’ve given me.
Help me also to do the things I don’t feel like doing–becoming a part of a community of believers, participating and using my gifts, encouraging others, serving and giving of myself. These are all hard to do when I feel this weight of loneliness. But then I remember Jesus and how everyone left him alone in his final hour. And how you had to turn your back on him when my sin was placed on him. That was true loneliness and because of Jesus, I will never have to feel that separation that he experienced. May his great love for me propel me to love and serve and join, even when I am hurt, alone, and wounded.
Give me gospel joy even in my aloneness. Blanket me with your grace and loving kindness to ward off the chill of rejection and loss of friends and family. Help me to feel your presence and trust that you are always with me. May this season of loneliness draw me ever closer to you.
Because of Jesus I pray, Amen.
To read more of my gospel prayers, click here.