When You Don’t Know How to Pray

Lately, prayer has been hard for me. My problem is not that I do not want to pray. My problem is that I haven’t really known how to pray. I am not sure what I want to see God do in some of the situations of my life.

My dad was sick, and I didn’t want to lose him, but the pain was mounting. My pain at his loss has left me feeling empty and alone, and I don’t know how I am supposed to feel right now. My future is unclear, and I am struggling to get through each day. The worst part, I don’t know what I want God to do in my life, I just know I want him to do something. I hate feeling like this.

This is not the first time I have had this feeling. I had it when I lost my best friend in an accident. I had it when I failed miserably in a ministry. I had it when I was betrayed by my sin and felt overwhelming shame.

Maybe you have felt it too? Maybe your life took a right turn you didn’t expect, and suddenly everything changed. Maybe someone you love made a series of decisions that left you unclear on which way to turn. Maybe that trip to the doctor did not turn out like you had hoped and now you don’t know what to do. Maybe you experienced some personal “dark night of the soul, ” and you didn’t know what to ask God to do for you?

What do you do when you don’t know how to pray?

Romans 8:26 says (in the NIV), “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.”

One of the promises to the followers of Jesus is that God will allow his Spirit to intercede for us. He will search our deepest heart and examine the depths of our soul. He will see what is going on inside of us and do the best for us. He will make sense of our life even when nothing makes sense to us.

What do we do when we don’t know how to pay? We pray anyway.

We open our heart and soul and allow God into our lives. We bow and wait for him to direct us. We hit our knees and sit quietly before him. We stand in the darkness with our God and cry without knowing why.

The promise is that he can hear our words through our groans and our tears. And not only does he hear, but he will also respond in his loving kindness.

Today I claim this promise and pray to God even when I don’t know what to say.

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