My life with Jesus has been a journey: exciting and adventurous, but also filled with obstacles and challenges. Prayer has helped me stay close to God through it all, even when I wasn’t sure if God was hearing me. I have learned through each challenge that God always hears me and knows what is on my heart–more than I ever could.
Challenging circumstances often drive me to my knees. There, I find assurance that I am safe in God’s hands, no matter what. Then I start to ask for guidance. He is always faithful to give me wisdom and point me in a direction that glorifies Him and honors Jesus.
But sometimes I am speechless, not knowing how to pray or what to say.
Have you ever felt so heavy and burdened that words just wouldn’t come? Or have you ever found yourself helpless, discouraged, or even angry at God? If you have, it’s okay. King David, the writer of most of our Psalms in the Bible, was not afraid to express these feelings, saying things such as, “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?”(Psalms 44)
Regardless of how we feel, the truth is plainly stated for us: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”(Romans 8:26). Isn’t that amazing? He cares for you so much that even if you don’t know what to say, or when you’re too sad or upset to explain exactly how you’re feeling, the Holy Spirit intercedes on your behalf with things that you couldn’t express even if you tried.
God doesn’t intend for you to do anything on your own, even prayer. Isn’t that amazing? He cares for you so much that even if you don’t know what to say to God, or when you’re too sad or distraught to even be able to figure out on your own exactly how we’re feeling, the Holy Spirit intercedes for you on your behalf with things that would not ever be possible to express if you tried. God doesn’t intend for you to do anything on your own, even prayer.
Now I know that God hears my heart and knows me better than I know myself. This has completely changed my perspective on prayer. Instead of letting confusion or pain drive me away from God, I now feel closer to God because of the truth found in Romans 8:26. I rest in the knowledge that any suffering I endure on this earth is nothing compared to what my Savior, Jesus, endured when he died on the cross for my sins, and that He always has my best in mind. 2 Timothy says that if we die, we live with him; and if we endure, we will also reign with him. That is surely good news!!
The next time you have trouble knowing what to pray, ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you. God says that He will, and you don’t have to do anything special for that to happen. Just trust Jesus. God cares about you and He loves you more than you could ever begin to imagine.
Pray this week:
To thank God that He always hears you and knows what is on your heart.
The next time you have trouble finding words to pray, turn to the Psalms and find one that expresses your heart. Pour out your heart to God – even if only tears come, and no words. You can also talk to a caring Christian about what’s going on. Share with us today.
As Christians, we know prayer is essential to our faith. We know it’s the way we communicate with God, and a major way through which He communicates to us… but that doesn’t make it easy to do. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve started to pray before bed and drifted off to sleep after just a few words, or the times I’ve said the memorized words without meaning any of it.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s Will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Half-hearted prayer is common, especially in our busy, distracted world, but there are ways we can fight against it.
- Give priority to prayer. “Prayer is the first and most important thing you are called to do,” Beeke says. To me, that means it shouldn’t be the last thing I try to cram into my day as I fall quickly to sleep, but instead my first thought as I wake up. It shouldn’t be an afterthought, but instead my main thought throughout every day.
- Give yourself–not just your time– to prayer. “Remember that prayer is not an appendix to your life and your work, it is your life– your real, spiritual life– and your work. Prayer is the thermometer of your soul,” says Beeke. It’s so easy to go about our lives neglecting prayer, but our lives will be so much healthier when we devote ourselves to praying through all circumstances.
- Give room to prayer. Where do you go to pray? When do you pray? Do you plan to pray? Beeke shares that the Puritans were quite intentional about their prayer– they created prayer closets to have a devoted space for prayer, they carved out specific times in the morning and evening for prayer, and they committed to praying even when they didn’t feel like it so they could develop the habit. This might look different for us today, but even simple things like sitting in the same place for a few moments in the morning to pray and read your Bible or setting a silent alarm on your phone that reminds you to pray at specific times each day can help you meaningfully engage in prayer.
- Give the Word to prayer. “The way to pray, said the Puritans, is to bring God His own Word,” Beeke shares. “Take His promise and turn them inside out, and send them back up to God, by prayer, pleading with Him to do as He has said.” Whether you choose one specific verse or passage to pray over, or you use the words in Scripture as the words of your own prayers to God, incorporating the Bible to your prayers is powerful.
- Give theocentricity to prayer. The focus of our prayers should not be ourselves, but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Instead of always complaining to God or demanding His help, shifting our perspective to what Christ has done for us and what the Spirit is doing through us gives us a right focus for prayer. Romans 8:26 tell us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
We can transform our half-hearted, distracted, disconnected prayer life into a vibrant, meaningful, intentional way of communicating with our Father. With this ideas as our guide, we can better focus on God, center our lives on Him, and devote ourselves to giving Him glory through our lives and our work.