“God, reveal to me an area I need to grow in.”
I pray these words every year, seeking guidance for my personal and spiritual growth. So far, God has prompted me to be present, love better, and pray more.
Usually, I’m like Gideon with the fleece (Judges 6:36-40), asking God to confirm what He wants me to do just one more time. But when I got the inner prompting to pray more, I felt the conviction instantly.
During the previous year, prayer had taken a back seat in my life. I fell into old bad habits, like complaining to friends instead of praying and telling people I’d pray for them but failing to follow through. The change was unintentional, which was the problem. We must be intentional about prayer.
So, I humbly accepted the guidance to pray more and started changing my habits. However, I quickly became frustrated. I’d set aside time to pray, but when the time came, I didn’t know what to say.
I tend to struggle with finding the words to pray for one of two reasons.
- I’m overwhelmed by feelings of sadness or anger. In situations where my heart feels heavy and my mind has trouble processing a situation, my words fail me.
- Everything in life is fine. No big struggles to bring me to my knees and nothing extra amazing to bring songs of praise to my lips.
In this case, the second reason rang true. I could think of topics to pray about–my children, my marriage, my friends and family, not to mention tragic events taking place around the world—but the words wouldn’t come. I wanted to pray but had a mental block.
In his book, The Praying Life, Paul Miller describes why this happens:
“Our natural desire to pray comes from Creation. We are made in the image of God. Our inability to pray comes from the Fall. Evil has marred the image. We want to talk to God but can’t. The friction of our desire to pray, combined with our badly damaged prayer antennae, leads to constant frustration.”
Even though Jesus’s death on the cross reconciled us to God and grants us access to Him anytime through prayer, our fallen nature still struggles to pray.
But there’s good news; prayer gets easier the more you do it. So, what we really need are some simple ways to pray, even when we’re struggling to find the words to pray.
3 Tips When You’re Struggling to Find the Words to Pray
1. Ask for help praying.
When you don’t know what to say, this is the best place to start. Be honest with God in how you’re struggling and ask Him to help you. For example:
“God, I know I need to pray, but I don’t know what to say right now. Please help me. Use the Holy Spirit within me to teach me the words to say.”
2. Tell God what you’re worried about.
We all worry and often those worries consume our thoughts. With the “what ifs” constantly knocking at the door, is it any wonder we can’t focus on finding words to pray?
So instead of trying to quiet your worries down and push them to the side, speak them as prayers to God. Tell Him what you’re worried about and why it’s bothering you.
Don’t worry about being too self-focused in your prayers, God wants you to bring your worries to Him. He’s like the friend who asks, “how are you doing today?” and actually wants a real answer. So, share what’s on your heart and mind, then ask for His help in the situation you’re worried about.
3. Pray Scripture. (I saved my favorite tip for last!)
The Bible is full of great passages you can easily turn into a prayer. If you’re new to praying scripture or find yourself in the “overwhelmed by feelings of sadness or anger” season, the Psalms are a great place to start. Psalms often put into words what you’re feeling and needing from God and they can be prayed word or word as you read.
You can also turn almost any Bible verse into a prayer by using my super simple formula for praying Scripture. Or use Scripture as inspiration for a prayer all in your own words. Whichever way you choose, you will find an abundance of words to pray.
When you struggle with the words to pray, it can be frustrating, but don’t give up! Try one, or all three, of these tips for when you don’t know what to pray and it will get easier.
Looking for Bible verses to pray? Download my free prayer guide: 20 Verses Every Prayer Warrior Needs in Their War Room.
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