Prayer When I Don’t Know What To Pray
What to Pray When You Don’t Know What Else to Say
I don’t know about you, but I have the tendency to get myself into ruts. Same restaurants. Same websites. Oh, and the snooze button—that’s probably my most problematic one.
These kind of ruts can also develop in our prayer lives, too. I create a list of things I’m praying for and it grows over time, until I de-clutter and refocus on what I think God is showing me and asking me to connect with in my times of prayer.
When I’m at a place where I need to refocus, I do something I think is pretty smart: I listen to Jesus.
Matthew, a tax man who was invited to follow Jesus, records Jesus teaching us how to pray. Sometimes we use the exact words of Jesus as we pray “The Lord’s Prayer,” but I believe that when we look at the structure Jesus uses, it can help us to reframe and refocus our prayers so we avoid ruts that can keep us from connecting with God.
Let’s break it down.
Who am I?
Starting with the word “our” rather than “my” reminds us that we are a people in community. We are not alone. We have many brothers and sisters in this life and need to recognize that God loves all of us.
Father in Heaven
Who are you?
As Anne Lamott says in Help, Thanks, Wow, God is way beyond us and deep inside us. It is always good for us to have some perspective on this. We are not praying to a God who doesn’t care or doesn’t know. We are praying to a Father who exists on a higher plane of reality than we exist on.
We connect to Him, to be sure, but we live within limitations that do not apply to Him. God is not worrying about what is happening to us. He has promised that He will care for us, and we must remember that He is fully capable of fulfilling His promises.
Hallowed Be Your Name
I’m not only in the relationship for what I can get it.
If you had a friend who only ever came your way when they needed you to serve their needs, you would start screening their calls pretty quickly. I’m not saying God will ignore prayer when we are being selfish—if that was true, I’d be in pretty big trouble. I’m saying that a in a healthy relationship, both sides care about the other.
Your Kingdom Come. Your Will Be Done on Earth, as It Is in Heaven
Why are we here?
In the midst of whatever need is going to come up in prayer, let’s keep the bigger picture in mind. I have been given a mission. If I forget that, it will change how I view any needs I feel.
We’ve all gone into a store or restaurant and had an employee act us walking in was the biggest inconvenience in the world. They have forgotten that customers are not an interruption to their work, but instead the reason for it.
Our purpose is not to live a problem free existence, but instead to invite the Kingdom of God to continually impact the world around us through our engagement with it.
Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
What do I need?
Only after all that effort in having a healthy perspective are we able to ask for things we need. Notice that Jesus leads us to ask for true needs rather than wants. I want more money and a bigger house; but perhaps I need to recognize that I have clothes to wear, food to eat and a roof on my head.
I want guidance on what I’m supposed to do next in my life, but I also need to be grateful for the gift of salvation that has changed my life.This reminds us to place our faith in God to provide what’s really necessary in our lives.
In fact, the very verse before Matthew records this example prayer, Jesus specifically says God knows what our needs are. He is leading us to understand that we need to get on God’s playbook rather than try to get God onto ours.
And Forgive Us Our Sins, as We Have Forgiven Those Who Sin Against Us
This isn’t about just me or just you, it’s about us.
God isn’t a butler, who lives to fulfill our every wish. God also isn’t a dictator who does what He wants regardless of us.
God is a loving Father teaching us healthy ways to engage in life so that we may have more abundance than we would naturally choose for ourselves. He has chosen to work in and through us.
We must be willing to understand that need for our effort to be included. The best way for this to happen is by linking our own personal benefit with the benefit we give to others.
Jesus doesn’t let us walk away from this prayer dusting off our hands, proclaiming that it’s all in His hands and we have nothing further to do. We always have further opportunity for engagement.
And Don’t Let Us Yield to Temptation, but Rescue Us From the Evil One
I’m not in the driver’s seat.
With the final line, Jesus reaffirms to us that we exist God’s grace. It in in God that we must place our hope.
If we start to believe that we are able to handle things on our own, or that we are in fact doing God favors with our efforts, things will surely end badly for us.
When we end our prayer by stating our continued need for God, it keeps us in a state of mind wherein we seek to maintain a disposition of faithfulness toward the one whose benevolence guides us to abundant life.Jesus gives us some valuable principles we can incorporate into our times of prayer. We’re not simply providing God with a to-do list. We’re actually seeking to orient ourselves around Gods activity in our lives and in our world. So goes the famous quote: “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.”
Good doesn’t need me to pray. I need to pray.
Seek to center your prayer on the identity and purpose of God, which gives you identity and purpose, as well. Such prayer will bring about growth and maturity in your life and is well worth your time.
How to Continue Praying Even When You Don’t Get What You Want
Special Note: Please join us on Thursday, May 7th, for National Day of Prayer. There’ll be prayer services at 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, and 7:30 pm. The Katina’s will be our guest worship band during the 7:30 pm service.
“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free.” – Psalm 118:5
When you’re distraught what do you do? Who do you turn to? Where do you go?
Before I came to Christ, I would struggle with depression and anxiety.
How I “dealt” with distress was by smoking and drinking anything that would make the pain go away.
I didn’t care if it was unhealthy. I wanted that quick fix, that temporary deliverance.
Sure enough, when that high came back down, the pain remained.
The messed up life I was trying to run from seemed only to get more complicated.
Before I knew it, I was staggering down this slippery slope. It was a seemingly never-ending cycle of destruction, brokenness, and bondage.
The freedom I sought in the things of this world was only entrapping me in this web of distress even more.
But Praise God, I have discovered an antidote for distress that isn’t expensive, illusive, or temporary.
It isn’t found in the things of this fallen world; it’s found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Yes, ask me for anything in My name, and I will do it!” – John 14:14
Prayer in the life of a believer is our lifeline to God.
It’s such a powerful tool because it can be done anytime, anywhere, on any occasion, and for any reason!
As Christians, we pray because we know that God attentively listens to us, unconditionally loves us, and is faithful to answer us.
We pray to our creator because He alone can turn our mourning into joyful dancing, our brokenness into wholeness, and our bondage into freedom.
The one concern of the devil is to keep us from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work and religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.
How to Handle the Tough Times in Life
We live in an evil, fallen world. We’re fighting a huge spiritual battle against an army we can’t see with our eyes.
Our war is not against other people; it’s against the forces of darkness.
When hard times come, and you reach that point of seemingly no return, cry out to your Savior through prayer.
Verbally and fervently pour out your heart to your Jesus.
He knows you, He cares for you, He’ll comfort you, and He’ll answer you.
Never underestimate God’s ability because He can do anything!
The Bible reassures us time and time again that nothing is too hard for Him.
God Almighty created the entire universe in only six days.
He parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites making a way of escape.
He defeated Satan and the powers of darkness and called us this fallen world by name!
The Bible reassures us time and time again that nothing is too hard for Him.
We can’t forget who our God truly is!
God is our provider, healer, counselor, comforter, peace, and security.
He’s our savior, redeemer, protector, faithful Father, the Good Shepherd, and the very best friend.We’re His chosen people, and He has a good plan for us!
When we cry out to Him, when we humbly call upon His almighty name in truth, the possibilities of what He can and will do in and through our lives are endless!
What to Do When You Don’t Get What You Prayed For
You may ask for something and not get it, or pray for something and not get it answered the way you wanted.
But be encouraged, and rest in God’s sovereignty.
He knows what’s best for you, and He promises us in Psalm 84:11, “He will withhold NO GOOD THING to those who walk uprightly!”
Our lives are held in the palms of His hands, so take heart in knowing that He will not give you something that will hurt you or hinder your relationship with Him.
Sometimes as I reflect back on my life, I thank God for the prayers He did not answer the way I wanted Him.
Sure enough, He did have a better plan for me and the same goes for you too.
The Bible says in Isaiah 55:9, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
So we need to be patient because His will is perfect, and His blessings are well worth the wait.
If you’ve been praying for something and haven’t received the answer you’re hoping for, don’t lose hope or give up!
God loves you more than you will ever know and wants to bless you in extraordinary ways, so never stop praying!
Never stop believing that He can and will answer you according to His perfect will.
Choose to keep praying, keep seeking, and keep knocking because God will answer!He will open doors, He will heal, He will intervene and He will give you a breakthrough!
We have to know more than ever before that we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God is at work in each and every one of His children’s lives, and He hears your prayers.
So cry out to Him today. He will give you the desires of your heart when you delight in Him.
When you surrender your ways to His ways, and your life to His will, then He won’t let you down.
“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.” – James 5:13
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and burdened with the things of this world or the situations you’re in, pray.
If you’re feeling joyful, thankful and full of praise, pray! Pray to your Savior because the answers you’re searching for come solely from Him.
Call on the name of the Lord for your God is greater! He will not falter, He will not fail, for He is strong to save! He will deliver, He will prevail, and He will make a way!
Study Verses: Isaiah 14:24, Psalm 37:4, Luke 11:1-13
5 Verses to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray – Counting My Blessings
I can still remember the feeling it happened yesterday. I desperately needed to pray but the cries of my heart were making it impossible for me to put my needs into words.
I called Rev and sobbed, “I need you to come and pray with me.” And my partner in prayer as well as life came and put words to our pleas.
Whether your problems are personal, national, or global … sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray. And I have to admit, almost every time I watch the news or scroll through my social media feeds it feels the enemy of our souls is on an evil rampage.
We shouldn’t be surprised we feel helpless and maybe even a little hopeless at times; when we can’t find the words and don’t know what to pray.
Maybe this is one of those times for you.
If so, join me … I’m praying God’s Word of hope and promise.
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because You are faithful and righteous.
Father, Your Word tells me You are love. It tells me You want me to come to You with my prayers. So, I come to You offering my tears and wordless pleas. I need You! I believe You are faithful and righteous, just and true. I give this to You, Lord. Give me courage and strength. Help me. Help us. Amen.
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
and He answered me from His holy mountain.
Father, I trust You are with me. I believe You guard and protect me. Even when life feels fragile and I’m frightened, I count on You to shield me. When I cry out to You repentant of the many ways we have failed You, ways I have failed You … Lord, You gently lift my face and turn my eyes toward You. You are the Rock, who gives me courage. Thank you. Amen.
Also, the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us with deep feelings that words cannot explain.
Father, I love this verse. I am weak. My heart is heavy and I don’t know what or how to pray. But Your Spirit helps me. He comes to You and speaks my needs even when they are unclear to me.
Spirit, pray for me. You know my yesterday, my today, and my tomorrow. You know what’s best for me. You know the anxious thoughts behind my wordless prayer. Nothing is new to You. Nothing too difficult. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the beyond understanding peace You give. Amen.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Father, nothing is impossible to You. Power for life is in and with You. You raised Jesus from the dead. My current circumstances, though difficult, are not beyond Your power and love.
So, I come to You praying Jesus’ Garden prayer, “Abba, Father,” He cried out, “everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.
” (Mark 14:36) I trust Your will for me. Thanks and praise. Amen.
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault.
Father, I praise You. When things appear frail and uncertain. When the enemy tries to fill my mind with doubts I come to You. Take my doubts and fears from me. Gather my tears and hold them close.
Fill my heart and mind with hope and joy as I look toward the future You promised long ago. This is just a moment on the journey to my forever in Your presence. You are my promise now and forever. Thank you.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Never stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17When you have words and even when you don’t … pray. Your Father loves you. He hears you. He will answer the cries of your heart.
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What if I Don’t Want to Pray?
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Few aspects of the Christian life can cause God’s people more guilt than a lack of personal, private prayer.
Few disciplines in the Christian life are as difficult as private prayer. And this struggle doesn’t just exist for immature Christians or those very weak in faith.
The testimonies of even some great Christians verify that prayer is difficult.
- “Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.” —Martyn Lloyd-Jones
- “There is nothing that we are so bad at all our days as prayer.” —Alexander Whyte
- “There are times in my life when I would rather die than pray.” —Thomas Shepard
Consider these words from John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, whose godliness, knowledge of the Scriptures, and powerful preaching were well-known to all who knew him.
May I but speak my own experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make you…entertain strange thoughts of me.
For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so reluctant to go to God, and when it is with him, so reluctant to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my prayers; first to beg God that he would take my heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there.
In fact, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only (blessed be grace) the Spirit helps our infirmities (Romans 8:26).
This is astonishing honesty, but who cannot relate to Bunyan? In fact, as a pastor, I actually wish more people, including myself, could relate to this struggle—sadly, some do not even get to the struggle. Other Christians get into what might be called a “prayer rut” where they find it difficult to break their prayerless pattern.
A Loving Soul’s Conversation With God
Sometimes we get in a rut and develop bad habits and need a fresh awakening to get our prayer lives back on track. In 1710, Matthew Henry published A Method for Prayer, which deals with this very issue and provides valuable advice for God’s people concerning daily prayer.
The Scriptures command us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but also together with other believers (Matt 6.9–13″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Matthew 6:9–13). The Bible says much about prayer—why is this?
We should not consider it a mere religious performance, asking, “How often do I have to do it?” Instead, as Thomas Manton said, prayer is the conversation of “a loving soul with God,” and “acts of friendship and communion must not be rare and unfrequent, but constant and often.” He wrote, “If we have a love to God, we cannot keep long God’s company, but will be with him pouring out our hearts to him.”So how can we reignite our prayer lives in a way to bring back the consistency that we all desire while we struggle on earth? Three helpful reminders will enable us to cultivate our spirits so that we can find the time to go into our closet and enjoy, not dread, our secret communion with God.
“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).
People wake up early to exercise, eat, get to work and so on. But far too easily we begin these activities without a word to our Father in heaven. Henry writes, “It is our wisdom and duty to begin every day with God.” We always have something to talk to God about. We always have something to praise him for or ask him for.
Why should you dedicate a part of the morning to God? Because you cannot afford to not speak with your Father in the morning. As Henry says, “In the morning…we should give him fresh thanksgivings and fresh meditations on his beauties. In the morning as we prepare for the work of the day, let us commit it all to God.”
You need to begin the day with God, but you also need to spend the day with God. Paul commands the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17–18).
Constant dependence is the attitude of a child toward his father in whom he trusts and on whom he casts all of his cares.
As a father of four children, it would be extremely odd, but also hugely disappointing, if my children ignored me throughout the day. Our Father is not indifferent to our silence.
Christ experienced the silence of his Father so that we should always have the opportunity to never be silent towards God our Father.
Wherever you go or whatever you do each day, search for reasons to pray and praise. As James wrote, if you are sad, then pray to God; if you are happy, then sing praises to God (James 5:13). That covers all of life.
3. Close every day with God
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).
Just as you begin your days with God, and spend your days with God, you should also close your days with God. Again, Henry writes, “Let this still every storm, command and create a calm in thy soul.”
Lie down with thanksgiving to God. In family worship, my family covers the events of the day that we are thankful for. This is a particular emphasis I place upon my children when they pray.
They should remember what God has done for them each day.I want them to be aware, as we all should, that “every bit we eat, and every drop we drink, is mercy; every step we take, and every breath we draw, is mercy.”
We should be thankful for the end of the day as God’s provision of rest, for a place to lay your head, and for the health of body and peace of mind which allows you to sleep.
Prayer Begets Prayer
What, then, is the solution to our lack of prayer? Prayer.
There are other things we can do to help fix the inadequacies of our prayer life. But through the simple routine of beginning the day with God, communing with him frequently through the day and remembering him before sleeping, I have found that those secret times with the Lord are more frequent and more blessed.
Habitual prayer tends to give rise to habitual prayer, as our dependence on and desire for communion with our Father grows the more we bring ourselves into his presence.