Doubtful Prayer: Don’t Go

Blank disbelief was my reaction

the day faith disappeared into the black hole.

My life’s experience of God,

a rich storehouse of meaning–

suddenly and inexplicably empty.

There was no painful grappling

with an angel from God,

no kicking and screaming as religious certainty

was dragged out the door,

no intellectual duels agonizingly lost,

no moral crisis to point to

and say there, that is what happened,

that is where I stopped believing.

It was nothing like that.

One morning I woke up to no God at all.

A reverse rapture

where I was surrounded by the faithful

while the presence of God in me

was snatched away.

Nothing left behind, not even

the possibility of the presence of God.


First, a period of coasting,

frantically checking all controls,

trying this, trying that

all the while muttering

“This can’t be happening.”

Next, there’s trying to pass for normal

in the congregation of the faithful,

mouthing prayers and hymns

as lifeless as cement.

Scripture lying dead on the table.

Finally, the bleak realization

that I was exiled,

unchurched in the land of the living.


Why did God disappear?

How did God disappear?

A long dark year cannot be forgotten

even though slowly, imperceptibly

faith dawned again.

One morning knowing,

I was again a believing-in-God person.


God, out of my dark night

you have graced me with your presence.

Don’t go.

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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