How to Pray When You Don’t Know How

How to Pray When You Don’t Know How

You talk with your family and friends. You send text messages, write emails, and post updates on social media. You make phone calls, and perhaps even make presentations at school or at work.

But when it comes to talking with God, you’re all tongue-tied. You can’t think of a thing to say. It feels awkward.

The truth is, you can pray anywhere, any time, for any reason. You can pray out loud or silently, alone or with others, long or short, standing, kneeling, with hands raised, or curled up in a ball in tears.

Perhaps you’re not used to praying much. And even the most “spiritual” of us may sometimes feel at a loss in knowing how to approach God when things are tough. Here are some simple steps to help you get started, or get you out of a “funk” in your prayer life.

  1. Choose to believe. Making a conscious choice to believe that God cares and that He hears you gets you over some potentially big hurdles in talking with God. Even if you choose to only believe “temporarily,” give God a chance.
  2. Be present. Set aside a time to focus on talking with God – 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever. Put aside other distractions just for this time.
  3. Be vulnerable. Put your feelings out there. Express what you’re feeling to God – anger, worry, confusion, pain, fear, excitement.
  4. Read a verse of Scripture. There are times you just can’t read. But whenever you can, reading just a few verses will often give God an opportunity to answer you in some way, and help your heart to hear Him.
  5. Ask God your questions. Jesus often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36, Mark 10:51) Be specific with God in what you need and want.
  6. Listen for God’s answer. As with any conversation, talking is only a small part of prayer. Being quiet long enough to hear God’s response to you is where you will experience prayer changing things.
  7. Commit to following through. To experience the benefits of prayer, you will usually need to take action – either mentally or physically. You may need to forgive someone, actively trust God for something, change your lifestyle, or take some other specific action.

Many prayers are recorded in the Bible; read one of them if you need some inspiration. Many of the Psalms are prayers, and that’s a great place to go if you feel stuck.

What does this look like in real life? Here are a few sample prayers for specific situations.

If you’re sick:

“Dear God, I’m sick. And I’m feeling afraid, and tired. I don’t like being in pain. I need You to be with me in my weakness. Please heal me! I commit to doing all I need to do to cooperate with Your healing power. Please let me feel Your presence, and show me what I need to do. And I choose to trust You with my health. Amen.”  (Psalm 103:2,3)

If you’re confused:

“Dear God, I’m frustrated. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even really understand what I’m feeling, or what to talk to You about. But I believe You care about me, and that You have the answer. You are big enough to see everything that’s going on, and I trust that You will give me the answer when I need it. Please show me what I need to understand, and how You would want me to proceed. Thank You. Amen.”   (James 1:5)

If you’re angry and hurt:

“Dear God, Right now I wish I could give those who hurt me the same treatment they gave me. I want to give them what they deserve! My heart is boiling over. But I choose to turn that job over to You. I ask You to vindicate me and save me from this evil, and to deal with those who have hurt me. Please heal my heart as well. I need to feel You with me. Thank You. Amen.”   (Psalm 94:1-4, Romans 12:19)

If you’re anxious about a loved one:

“Dear God, I’m worried about my (spouse, child, friend). My heart is breaking for them. Please grant me the wisdom and courage to do what I can for them, and then to leave them in Your care. I know You love them even more than I do. Please be with them. Intervene in their life (marriage, finances, etc). You’re the only One who can do what they need. Amen.   (Job 42:10, Isaiah 49:25)

God wants you to talk with Him. And He wants to talk with you. Try Him out today!

 

What do you need to talk with God about today? Leave a comment below. 

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