Growing up, I loved it when my mother would sit on the edge of my bed and pray over me. Often she thought I was already asleep. I would stay quiet and take in the words she prayed over me. I have learned to love to pray out loud over my family and others and enjoy it. But sometimes prayer doesn’t come easy.
When Prayer Doesn’t Come Easy
When prayer doesn’t come easy, my first reaction used to be fear.
What am I doing wrong?
Why can’t I pray?
Why is my mind just an absolute blank, when all I want to do it cry out to God?
What is going on?
Instead of giving in to that knee-jerk fear, when prayer doesn’t come easy, I’ve learned to do some simple other things.
What to do When Prayer Doesn’t Come Easy
Maybe some of these will help you, when you just can’t pray.
Sometimes, prayer doesn’t come easy because I haven’t been close to God. Maybe I’ve been accommodating my sin or just pushed God to the side in “my busy life.” I haven’t allowed Him to be the Lord of my life in all areas and so feel guilty and distant.
When that happens, I start to confess or ask God to open my eyes to why I’ve been avoiding Him.
Sometimes, it’s not because I’ve been avoiding him. Sometimes, it feels like prayer doesn’t come easy because, my mind is just an absolute blank. It’s like I can’t think. I can’t process. It’s scary and frustrating.
When this happens, I simply confess exactly where I am….
”Lord, I love you. I don’t know what’s going on, but the words aren’t coming. I want to express to you my need and I want you to hear my prayer, but I can’t.”
(Even though it’s a few words, that’s technically a prayer. Talking with God in any form is praying, right?)
Trust in the Holy Spirit Going Before Me
When I get to the point of not being able to even put words together, I lean in and trust that the Holy Spirit is going before me. I thank God that even though I don’t have the words, his Holy Spirit knows my heart and knows I want to follow and love Him all my days.
He knows the struggles I am having and why my thoughts won’t form.
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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
– Romans 8:26-27
Praise God that he is always faithful and won’t turn from us, simply because our prayers are not eloquent and wordy!
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
-Jesus, Luke 18:13-14
The Lord hears the cries of our hearts and knows what they are before we ever understand them. We can seek comfort in the fact that he knows some moments in our lives are going to be minute by minute, day by day and gives us our daily bread – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Read Other People’s Prayers
When praying doesn’t come easy, reading other people’s prayers encourages my heart. It almost kick starts my prayer muscle so I can feel that there is life in my prayers. I might not have the words but God has provided someone else’s heartfelt words so that I can still connect with Him.
Sometimes, their prayers lead me into my own words and sometimes I can only read theirs.
Did you know God doesn’t keep prayers from being heard because they are not your original words? It’s true!
He gives us plenty of prayers that vary from a few words to a few paragraphs in the Bible. I believe these prayers not only help to show us that prayers are as varied as people but help us in times when our own words aren’t coming.
Pray Directly from the Bible
There are times I read other people’s prayer and then there are times I read over scripture and pray those exact words. God’s word is powerful. Trusting that God means what He says and wants that in my life, allows me to lean into His words in order to pray.
Maybe it’s praying the blessing from Numbers 6:24, praying a Psalm, or praying whatever passage I’m reading.
No matter what scripture or Bible verse we choose, it can easily be turned into a prayer. Or simply even, “Lord, help my life start to reflect this passage.”
Ask Someone to Pray Over You
Asking your husband or a friend to pray with you is wonderful. If you have a prayer accountability group, letting them know that you feel blocked or unable to pray is a much needed request and allows honesty to encourage your faith instead of thinking that you have to be a perfect prayer warrior. Even prayer warrior’s get wounded and need extra help.
Draw Near to God…God Understands
We all go through ups and downs in our spiritual life. They may look differently from person to person, but if you ever find yourself having a difficult time praying, don’t take that as a sign that you are a bad person. Take it as a sign that you are going through a difficult season. Trust God will get you through it.
When prayer doesn’t come easy, it often feels like we are grappling to hold on to God. The good news is, when we draw near to God even if words don’t come, he holds us tightly in his hand. He knows our hearts and what is happening even when we don’t.
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Using Your Inability to Prayer to Encourage Others
Maybe, just maybe, part of the reason prayers aren’t coming easily now is because you will need to encourage someone else down the road whose prayers aren’t coming easily either.
Encouraging others to hold on to their faith, when our faith walk isn’t easy, is definitely a theme threaded throughout all of Scripture. Personally, I count these times of not being able to pray the way I wish I could as trials that allow me to just hold on and not give up.
If you’re in the midst of this right now, remember the best thing of all, God is holding you tight and won’t let you go just because your prayers aren’t coming easy.