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Prayers for a Widow’s Journey

by Gayle Roper


Has your loss ever been so deep that you would give almost anything to spend one more day in the past, rather than face a future without your loved one? Life lived after such a loss is full of grief, uncertainty, and loneliness. The only ones who can possibly understand how it feels to live in such a frightening future are the ones who have experienced it themselves. Prayers for a Widow’s Journey is a collection of more than 100 reflective prayers I penned as a grieving widow, simply seeking Jesus in the depths of my heartbreak. From sleepless nights in an empty bed to lonely Christmases, I wanted to open a window into my life as I loved, lost, and grieved my beloved husband, Chuck—because I know and believe in the ministry of walking the journey of grief out loud.

Each chapter in my book includes a prayer is accompanied by a verse from Scripture that grounds the devotions not in self-pity, but in an awareness of the boundless care of the God of all comfort. Covering everything from loneliness, to community, to navigating a vision for the future, Prayers for a Widow’s Journey avoids explaining grief away, and instead acknowledges the pain and invites each of us to trust God even in these darkest of days—together.

… I will not leave you comfortless…

There’s a gigantic hole, Lord. A cavern. An abyss, empty and black. Ugly.

That may sound like overkill, like overstatement, but is it? The large part of me that my husband filled with his love and his presence has been ripped away. I look the same. I sound the same. I am not the same. The married part of me has disappeared. Poof! Gone. All that’s left is silence and pain.

What will fill that gaping chasm that used to teem with life and love and purpose? Only You, Lord. Only You who will never leave me comfortless.

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18)

… not neglecting to meet together…

Lord, I sit in church and watch all the couples. One laughs softly together. Another sits shoulder to shoulder. The stiff posture of those two tele-graphs their anger. Did they have an argument on the way? We used to be all those couples: loving, agreeing and disagreeing, our two hearts one, even on the bad days. It’s not the fault of the still-couples that they make my heart ache.

I’ve come broken into this ark of worship with all the two by twos. Help me remember that even in community, worship is the act of one with One. I still qualify.

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)


… to give you a future…

Lord, right now I don’t want a future. I want my past. I want my husband. I want our life together. In memory, it glows golden. Beckoning. And I want it!

Of course, I know it wasn’t perfect. We had our bad days, our hard times. I also know I can’t have it back no matter how I yearn for it. Part of my longing to go back is because I’m uncertain, even afraid of what lies ahead. But ahead lies the opportunity to trust in You to give me a fulfilling future. Ahead lie Your plans. Ahead lies life.

I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

… all the days were written…

Lord, we stood around his bed holding his hand, singing to him. We didn’t know if he was aware, but since hearing is the last sense to go, we told him how much we loved him. I smoothed his hair and kissed his cheek.

I thank You for this sweet memory. At the same time, I struggle with the idea that he had to go at all. I know You, as author and finisher of our faith, wrote our stories before we even began to live them. I’m just surprised and saddened by how soon You wrote him out of mine. Still, I choose to trust You.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)

… they are new every morning…

Mornings are hard, Lord. There’s that sweet moment before I glance at the pillow next to mine and realize it hasn’t been slept on. The covers aren’t disturbed. No body heat slips over to warm me. No arms wait to hold me.

All the loss rushes back, all the hurt, the loneliness, the grief. The day can be bright and golden with sunshine or overcast and gray with clouds. The stab of realization pierces regardless. Every morning.

Help me remember your mercies are also new every morning, and they are mine to hold onto because of Your unfailing and steadfast love.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

… I will sing as long as I live…

Lord, what was once a duet has become a solo, and I don’t want to sing my life’s song alone. I don’t know how. My voice is weak by itself. It’s meant to blend, to harmonize. But the bass that ran beneath and strengthened my soprano has faded to silence.

I know I must continue to sing. I’m still alive. But how do I learn the notes for my new song? Where do I find the music? What if I sing the wrong notes?

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. (Psalm 104:33)

Gayle Roper is an award-winning author of over 60 books, with the original release of A Widow’s Journey receiving the Golden Scroll Book of the Year in 2015. For over 50 years of service as an author, speaker, and mentor, she received ACFW’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Gayle lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, where she enjoys reading, gardening, and her family—and, of course, eating out.


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