Christmastime can be extremely difficult for those who have suffered a death or loss. Rather than bringing tidings of great joy, Christmas ushers in reminders and painful memories and loss.

What if you could see grief on a map? I have a feeling all across the globe, we would see millions of tiny specks representing those who are dealing with some kind of loss.

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I live in Southern California. In early November, three separate wildfires broke out in southern and northern areas of my state. The worst of the three, the Camp fire, completely devastated the town of Paradise, causing all 27,000 residents to evacuate their homes and taking the lives of 88.

But there were many other natural disasters around the globe in 2018. There were earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, dust storms, and tropical storms that took the lives of thousands, leaving behind a wake of grief.

Aside from these horrific disasters, the truth is,

Most of us have been touched in some way by grief this year.

Perhaps you faced the death of a loved one, a divorce, job loss, separation from a family member, a negative health prognosis, or some other major loss.

Grief is experienced not only from a physical death. There are many shades of grief.

Dealing with grief can be exasperated during the holiday season when we are “supposed” to be joyful. And when we aren’t joyful, that can lead to guilt and even bitterness. After all, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, shouldn’t we be happy?

My friend, if you are suffering from grief and loss this Christmas season, I have something to tell you:

Jesus understands the many facets of loss, loneliness, and sorrow. 

“He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” Isaiah 53:3

Jesus is not holding it against you because you aren’t full of joy this Christmas. He is with you in your grief and loss. 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Jesus comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4

One of the best ways to deal with grief—our own or someone else’s—is with prayer.

What does prayer do? Who should we pray for? How can we pray?

What Does Prayer Do?

In order to understand more about what prayer can do, we must understand more about God. Biblically speaking, God is a personal being. When we pray, we are reaching out and communicating with God. Not only is God personal, but He is also all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, holy, and wise. He knows what’s best for us.

This means that no prayer is too great for God, but also that no prayer is too small for Him.

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5: 13-16

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“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”Ephesians 6:18 

Who Should We Pray for and How

The correct answer is anyone and everyone. But all of us know someone who is dealing with something difficult and is in need of specific prayers.

Scripture is the perfect way to pray.

  • Pray for those who have experienced loss or tragedy (Matthew 5:4).
  • Pray for those who are lonely (Psalm 25).
  • Pray for those who are incarcerated or a loved one is incarcerated (Ephesians 1:7).
  • Pray for those who do not have a personal relationship with God’s son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:17)
  • Pray for food pantries and local homeless shelters (Proverbs 22:9).
  • Pray for our churches and godly leaders and their families, for much is expected of them (Galatians 6:9).
  • Pray for those who are suffering from illness (Psalm 6:2,3).

Prayer can make a profound difference in our world. But it is up to us to humbly and regularly seek the face of God.

Who is the Spirit leading you to pray for?

Take your prayers a step further.

Reach out to someone in your life experiencing loss. 

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Pick up the phone or better yet, pay them a visit. What better time of year than Christmas to give someone the gift of encouragement.

Who is the Spirit leading you to contact this holiday season?