My familiarity with prayer as a child was limited to something we recited at dinner, something we heard at church, what you did when someone was sick, and the closing activity before bedtime. As I got older, there were a few times that I found myself falling to my knees, my face bowed to the floor, coming to God – and I remember them vividly. Each time was out of desperation. I don’t remember the words, but the feeling of connection to my Father- that stuck with me.
Over time, I’ve realized that it’s never been the words that mattered to God. God is not concerned with how articulate we are, he’s concerned with our hearts. And the reason those desperate fall-to-my-knees moments are so etched in my heart are because they were turning points in my relationship with Him– from knowing about Him to knowing Him.
As Jesus sends out his disciples, preparing them for persecution in spreading the Gospel, he says, “do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to know our prayers, our needs and the desires of our hearts, before we say a word, but the act of just coming humbly before God is what honors Him. He desires our prayers because he desires relationship – it’s not a one way street.
Prayer isn’t about knowing all the answers. It’s about having communion with the one who does.
In Colossians 4:2, Paul reminds the people to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” To pray with an open heart is not being scared of “doing it right,” but to connect with our creator and allow Him space to be King of our lives in every emotion and circumstance. Yes, the desperate times, but also in gratefulness, joy, creativity, and noticing His hand in it all.
A few things that help me when I don’t know what or how to pray:
Reading scripture – I read a passage and pull out one verse that moves me, focusing on each word or phrase of it and praying from the overflow
Worship music – When I’m studying a song for Sunday mornings or just listening in my own time, sometimes I’ll rest on a particular lyric and pray over it. Saying a verse or lyric over and over again anchors something in my heart and I begin to pray from that truth.
Community – Building relationship with other believers who pray openly and boldly for one another has helped me see not only the power of prayer, but confidence in doing it, and given me new language to pray for issues or emotions.
Father, we praise you for knowing, understanding, and loving us even when we don’t have the words to express it. Help us to continue seeking you, that we would grow in relationship with you daily and hear your voice in new and powerful ways.