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How To Pray When You Don’t Know What To Pray

There are times that when we come to God in prayer, we don’t know what to say. Sometimes, this may be due to not knowing just how to articulate what we want to say, the thoughts that we are thinking, or the emotions that we are feeling toward God. At times, because a situation is so shocking, painful, or overwhelming, we are at a loss for words. Imagine a person who just witnessed something horrible for the first time in his or her life. In the first few minutes, hours, or even days, that person might still not know how to convey what happened. However, no matter how much we feel at a loss for words, we must remember that God is not intimidated by the things that intimidate us. God can still understand us even if we don’t know what to say.

Father in heaven, I thank You because even when I don’t know how to describe to You the thoughts and emotions that I have, this inner turmoil that is in my soul, You know of them, and so I am assured that I am understood. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Pray

How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Speechless Moments in Times of Prayer

There are moments in life when one could be at a loss for words; for example, a sudden death of a loved one or an unexpected emotional pain from a trusted friend. The horrible news leaves one paralyzed and not even knowing how to process what just happened. Chances are that we have found ourselves in such a situation. We know that we should respond to God in prayer and commune with Him as we run toward Him as He is our refuge and strong tower (Proverbs 18:10; 1 Peter 5:6-7).

We must understand that there is nothing wrong with having those moments when you pray to God and do not know what to say to Him. In (Psalm 77:4 You kept my eyes from closing;     I was too troubled to speak.), the psalmist says he is so troubled that he cannot speak. We may find ourselves able to relate with the psalmist when we are troubled with something that we cannot tell God. Does that mean our prayer does not honor Him because we are not saying anything to Him? Not necessarily.

You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak

How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

First, you are not speaking because you genuinely don’t know what to say to God, given how troubled you are. The heart behind it is not laziness in praying. The mere fact that you are speechless, don’t know what to say or even process what has just happened, and you still came to God shows a heart of humility, dependence on God, and the desire to run toward Him as your strong tower even if you don’t know how to process things or describe them (Psalm 46:1). Know that Christ exercises His office as God’s chosen servant gently and modestly in such times. 

In Isaiah 42:2-4 it is written:

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.”

This shows us how compassionate and tenderhearted our good shepherd is toward the broken and the weak—those who cannot even speak given how troubled they are. Even if they are bruised reeds, He does not break them but tends to them with care and gentleness. Even if they are smoldering wicks that a slight wind would extinguish, He nurtures and sustains them. So, you have a Savior and Lord Who listens to and understands you even when you don’t know what to pray.

Thank You, Jesus, for You are our doctor Who knows our frailties. You know it because You became human, clothed Yourself with flesh and blood, and dwelt among us. Therefore, knowing our frailties, You care for us with utmost gentleness so that we don’t break further. That is just how humble, gentle, and modest You are with us. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

God’s Omniscience and the Holy Spirit in Us

It is fair to ask how someone can understand us if we don’t know what to say, describe the situation, or communicate our thoughts and emotions. If we sit down with a friend, our friend will never understand our inner turmoil unless we can describe it to them (although their company is surely a big help). However, we must understand that our heavenly Father is omniscient and the Holy Spirit is in us.

Take a look at Psalm 139:1-6:

” O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

The passage that we just read teaches us about the omniscience of God. God’s omniscience means He is all-knowing. There is nothing in this world that He does not know, for He is all-encompassing. The passage above tells us that His knowledge is so great that a human cannot attain it. If God knows what is going on in the vast universe, down to every atom, how much more does He know us? The passage above tells us that He searches you and knows you. He knows when you rise or when you lie down. He knows what you will say even before a word is on your tongue.

So, even if you don’t know how to describe or communicate your thoughts and emotions, God already knows the inner turmoil of your heart. You are not informing Him as you come to Him in prayer—you are running toward Him to take refuge. That should assure you that when the Bible says that God understands you, He understands you more than you can imagine.

In times of weakness, when we cannot articulate the very prayer that we want to pray to God, the Holy Spirit in us intercedes on our behalf with God. As written in Romans 8:26-27:

” Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Father, You are all-knowing. Whenever we come to You in prayer, it is not as if we have to make You understand our situation, because You know every single detail of it more than we do. We are assured that You are the only One Who understands us best. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Pray

How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

How Can You Pray When You Don’t Know What Words To Say?

How, then, can we pray when we find it hard to put into words what we want to say to God? You can pray whatever it is that you want to tell God. Even a simple phrase such as “Lord, help me” is enough. Remember, it is not about impressing God with how well you can articulate your prayer or how well you can communicate your thoughts and emotions to Him. It is about running toward Him, as He is your refuge and strong tower.

We may experience something horrible, not know how to process it or even describe it, and come to a dead end in our prayer. But if we tell God that He is the only One we can run to and utter a few words, that is already a prayer that we have prayed at the moment (Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called to the Lord;  I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice;     my cry came before him, into his ears.).

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

How to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

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