When Prayer Feels Unproductive, I Long for a Better World

Columnist Kristin Neva relates the Lord's Prayer to everyday life with ALS

Kristin Neva avatar

by Kristin Neva |

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Because life with ALS only gets harder as time goes by, prayer has felt increasingly unproductive for me. And after more than a decade of watching my husband, Todd, suffer from the disease, my prayers have been full of dismay.

“God, are you there? Don’t you care? Don’t you think it would be good to heal Todd? Life has been really hard for a long time. Hello?”

I wish Todd could have a more expansive life. It’s depressing to think that death will be his only escape from paralysis and his struggle to breathe.

In the last month, I’ve found solace in the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus taught his disciples. It’s a prayer I would recite as a child in church. Today, I rest in the comfort of the words familiar to me, a modified New International Version, and meditating on how they relate to life with ALS:

“Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

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This world is not ideal. We desire heaven’s perfection here on earth because life is brutal. We imagine a kingdom where people living with ALS have the resources to manage the disease or, better yet, where there is a cure.

“Give us today our daily bread.”

We have many needs with ALS. Sometimes our needs are met. Sometimes they aren’t. We’re thankful when we have the basics: food, shelter, equipment, and nightly sleep.

“And forgive us our sins.”

We don’t always live up to our vows “to love and to cherish until death do us part.” It’s difficult to hold on to that ideal in the face of ongoing loss, grief, and stress, as well as through the unpleasant and mundane tasks of caregiving. We want to be empathetic and kind.

“As we forgive those who sin against us.”

Sometimes people say insensitive things or are dismissive of our pain by offering platitudes or ill-informed advice. Others who we thought would stick with us fade away when months of suffering become years. They don’t understand what we’re going through, or perhaps they’re dealing with issues that we don’t understand.

“And lead us not into temptation.”

We’re tempted to despair, give up, escape. No matter how bad things are, we can always make them worse. Every day we want to choose what is better. We can make it better than it could be when we love.

“But deliver us from evil.”

The wasting away of the bodies of those we love is an evil that’s hard to witness. Healthy bodies become weak, frail, and dependent, and for now we can’t do much to fight that evil. But we pray for a cure, or at least for a time when ALS is a treatable condition.

We find solidarity with humanity in this prayer prayed for centuries as many have longed for a better world.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


John Werner avatar

John Werner

Remember the Lord our God loves us. Do not give up hope. You and Todd are bearing your crosses here on earth....offer your suffering to the Lord. Remember He promises a place in Heaven for us who bear our crosses here. Pray always to Him and don't give up hope.

Dave Munro (cALS) avatar

Dave Munro (cALS)

Thank you for this, I needed to hear this.

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

Thanks for commenting!

David Fitton avatar

David Fitton

I lost my wife a short time ago to this devastating ALS thing and had to watch her deteriorate, I also prayed every day. She just wanted to end her suffering, not being able to do anything, it is just horrible and passed away also with dehydration as she did not want assistance with tubes. A solution to COVID was so quickly found yet over the last 100 years + we are not much closer to sorting ALS. In UK it has taken 2 years to release some of the 50 million allotted to the research, what chance have suffers got, it is crazy. Unfortunately drug companies will not make enough money from investing in a solution so we will be no further in another 100 years and more suffering and love ones will die. it is out of our power to do anything yet so much investment is found for space projects and war. My heart goes out to you it will take more than one drug to get a solution, it is such a complicated disease we just have to hope some someone will get a break through. Lets keep praying together for that. All my Love is with you

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

Thanks David. I'm sorry your loss.

Kent Dickerson avatar

Kent Dickerson

God is good all the time! I enjoyed you breaking down Gods prayers! I’m a fighter that has dealt with this for 13 years. I can stiil eat, dress, work everyday, I need help getting dressed, I’m in a powerchair and a big advocate for ALS. Not getting into my personal life, but I have a caretaker now, we’ve been married for 35 years. She don’t want to talk about ALS, read articles or promote it except through the walk. No intimacy what so ever, hug, kisses etc. I would still like to travel, no can’t do that she says. She’s a good woman but I think she’s at a burnt out stage and thought I would be gone years ago. The way I’m going now I will probably go another 15 years, if it’s Gods will, but I realize I could also die tomorrow. Just really struggling because I know God has kept me for a reason, but sometimes I want to give into the devil, because of my marital situation.

Kristin Neva avatar

Kristin Neva

Really hard stuff. Thanks for sharing your story.

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