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  • Writer's pictureTrace Pirtle

Prayer and Purpose in the Storms of Life [2022]

Prayer and Purpose in the Storms of Life is the ninth post in the Suicide Prevention Series. No matter how severe, life's storms don't need to end in suicide. Many storms are preventable; others require prayer and purpose to navigate. That's what this article will address.

Every storm that life blows in our direction will fall into one of the three dimensions of wellness: physical, psychological/emotional, and spiritual. So as we look at the storms of life individually, think about how important the other two dimensions are in weathering the storm.

The Storms of Life

The storms of life come in many forms. Some are physical, ranging from the energy-sapping common cold (like the one I have right now) to life-threatening illnesses. It can be challenging to appreciate the clear blue sky when you are wrapped in a blanket, shivering from cold one minute and sweating profusely the next. Suicide is common among people with severe illnesses, especially chronic pain. But reflect on God's promise during these times of physical misery,

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Others are emotional, like the depressive feelings you may get when a relationship ends (especially if you weren't expecting it). Unfortunately, so many have been lost to suicide because of broken relationships. In fact, men are 3-4 times more likely to commit suicide after a divorce than women. But a broken relationship does not need to break you! You are never alone; even in the darkest hours of loneliness, His is with you.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

Still, others are psychological. For example, when someone loses their job. How easy it is to fall into the pits of maladaptive thinking. Thinking that says, "Because I lost this job, I'll never find another one." Although difficult to establish with certainty, there appears to be a relationship between unemployment and suicide. Do not become discouraged by the injustices of the world, but be encouraged by God's Word,

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Then, finally, the most severe life storm of all. Some life storms blow in winds of doubt about God's existence, His care and love for you, and that He is in control of all life storms. It is common for people to ask, "Why is God allowing this storm to happen? Maybe God is a fairy tale, after all." Do not get caught up in this tornado of deception. The enemy wants to sweep you off your feet and the solid rock that is Jesus.

"Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3

Preventing and Avoiding Storms of Life

In my professional career, I worked with so many people who wanted to end their life by suicide. Unfortunately, several did despite my best effort and the best efforts of others. The critical point is this: many who complete suicide do so after enduring storms of life that could have been prevented or avoided. Have you seen any of this in your own life?

Preventing the Storm. Not every life storm is preventable. However, let's look at wellness's physical, psychological/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. We see that many problems can be prevented.

Physical Storms. If we want to remain physically healthy, we eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, exercise, and get enough sleep. It's not experimental nuclear physics. But many clients became depressed and suicidal precisely because they did not care for themselves physically.

Psycho-Emotional Storms. Preventing psychological and emotional storms is likewise possible. Stress, especially distress, leads many to anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide. Stress comes with living; however, stress also comes in two forms, negative stress (distress) and positive stress (eustress).

To prevent storm clouds from forming, replace them with something positive when you feel the first sensation of distress or the first anxious thought. It's not easy to change your outlook once the tornado is already outside your front door. So let's prevent the tornado from forming in the first place.

Spiritual Storms. To prevent a spiritual storm or a crisis of faith, just read your Bible. Yes, every day. The closer you get to the Bible, the closer God gets to you. No wonder scripture says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you..." James 4:8

Again, I'm not so naive as to think that all crises of faith can be prevented by daily Bible reading. Yet, I am bold enough in faith to say that 99 percent of the spiritual storms and attacks of the enemy can be prevented if we take time every day to seek God's wisdom. Staying very close to God's Word is the best prevention against a crisis in faith.

Preventing Life Storms with Positive Addictions. What I am about to say may not resonate with everyone. As with stress, there are negative and positive types of addictions. "Addiction" has such a negative connotation. It sure did for me when I first studied the work of Dr. William Glasser, founder of Reality Therapy. Although I will talk about his work later in this series, I know his research into positive and negative addictions changed my personal and professional life. So, let's look at a few examples of how positive addictions can help prevent life storms that lead to suicide.

First, all positive addictions begin with positive habits. For example, if we know that physical health prevents disease, we develop new habits with our eating and exercise. If you have thought about running to get into shape, you know how hard it is to do so consistently. But something extraordinary begins after a month or two of sore muscles. You become positively addicted to running!

We can apply the same lesson to psycho-emotional wellness. If we develop positive thinking and feeling habits, our brain chemistry changes. The stress hormone cortisol is reduced because your brain is producing serotonin. That means that YOU are changing your biochemistry. You don't need drugs to make the changes. You are preventing the storms of life from developing.

Finally, I discovered how daily Bible reading can become a positive habit and later a position addiction. At what point my commitment to reading the entire Bible became a positive addiction, I'm unsure. But, as with exercise, I think it was in the second month that I was hooked. After that, I became closer to God, not further from Him. Thus, developing a positive addiction to daily Bible study is a guaranteed method for preventing spiritual storms from brewing.

Your grandmother was right; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. No doubt she was a Bible-reading believer. :-)

Avoiding the Storm. As we've just discussed, most storms of life can be prevented. There are a few, however, that require wisdom and discernment to avoid. Some would call it "common sense," and I would agree as it relates to our physical and psycho-emotional wellness. Avoid junk food, a sedentary lifestyle, and high negative stress, and there you have it. Bob's your uncle! But spiritual storms are more difficult to avoid without spiritual discernment.

Look again at the image above. Imagine driving alone and seeing storm clouds in the distance to the left. Ahead toward the right, is a rainbow. Assuming the road ahead splits so you can go left or right, which way do you choose?

This choice isn't as easy as one might think. It's not like the obvious healthy choice for a snack between french fries or a juicy red apple.

No, spiritual discernment involves the people, places, and things of life that may not be as they seem. For example, the compelling advertisement for the perfect exercise contraption hides the actual motive of greed. It's not about your physical fitness.

Or the latest promotion for an antidepressant medication that will take your blues away. But what about all those debilitating and quality-of-life-reducing side effects? If you are feeling the blues now, wait until you are psychologically and physically addicted to those same medications...forever. Your misery is good for their business and bottom-line profit.

Looking at the rainbow in the distance, it would be easy to quickly turn in that direction. But God's rainbow can be distorted by the world, and turning in that direction leads to storms of life that can become terminal. Suicide becomes the only option for many who follow this rainbow. Jesus has warned us,

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So be on your guard; I have told you these things ahead of time." Mark 13:22-23

We've seen how to prevent 99 percent of the storms of life that can end in suicide. Learning the skills necessary to develop positive addictions is simple, rewarding, and life-changing. Now we will turn to prayer for that one percent of spiritual storms that require divine guidance brought forth in prayer.

Prayers in the Storms of Life

As I prayed for God's words and what He wanted me to say in this section, here are the scriptures He revealed to me. The essence is that not all storms are avoidable or should be avoided. He is sovereign.

A caution against too much self-reliance as you see storms closing in. I believe this relates to all storms of life, especially those of a spiritual nature.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8

Your life storms are deeply personal, but they are not unique. Sometimes we begin to feel invincible to the winds of change. Like we could stand on a rooftop in a super typhoon and not be knocked off. But if you are unphased by the wind's ferocity, remember who keeps you firmly grounded.

"So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Oh, how important is this verse? If we aren't in God's Word, we may miss His assurance of a way out. And, if we aren't in prayer, we may miss God's signpost directing the way out. Bible study and prayer are inextricably tied together. In fact, they lead us straight through the storms of life to our purpose, our unique destiny.

Finding Purpose in the Storms of Life

Imagine once again driving that deserted highway. Now, as you look ahead, you see a wall of black clouds. Lightning streaks to the earth as if to say, "nothing can pass through here without feeling the fire of hell!" Terrified, you look in the rearview mirror hoping for clear skies and a way to retreat from the inevitable storm ahead. No way. The enemy has you surrounded.

You pull to the side of the road and consider your options. Although you are afraid, you remember why you are here on this remote road in the first place. All alone, you remember God's quiet voice telling you to be at a particular place at a specific time. He has a Divine Appointment for you. It relates to a new purpose in life...a new calling that is uniquely yours.

You close your eyes and drift into prayer, asking your Heavenly Father for strength and direction. A new sense of purpose pulls you forward as you speed toward the wall of water and fire from the sky. At that moment, you see God's Word streaming in your mind's eye,

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Gripping the steering wheel, you say a final prayer as you follow God's instruction into the dark cloud. But as you approach, a sliver of brilliant sunlight parts the clouds. You travel ahead without a single raindrop hitting your car. You realize the importance of knowing God's Word, the power of prayer, staying on the narrow road, and that miracles aren't reserved for Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. He is here with you at this very moment. All you need to do now is keep His Divine Appointment to see what your new purpose is all about!


I initially typed the expected "Conclusion" that signifies the end of this article. A time to summarize the main points of what God wanted you to know about prayer and purpose in the storms of life. While typing, the Holy Spirit said, "It is not a conclusion. Instead, this is a commencement into a new life. If they hear My words, the old person is gone, and the new is here. No longer will they be victims of life's storms. No longer will they feel alone on the deserted highways of life. I Am with them forever. Suicide should never be an option." For me, that is encouraging enough to stay on the narrow road en route to my authentic destiny. How about you?

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About Me

Image of Dr. Trace Pirtle sitting on park bench identified as Jesus.

Greetings, I'm Trace!
I'm a retired counselor education professor who spent 35 years in the "helping professions." I'm an "all-in" believer working full-time for our Lord Jesus Christ. I've included my personal testimony if you are interested. 
May God bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

In His Service,

Trace Pirtle

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