When We Can’t Find The Words To Pray

I hate praying out loud. Call me crazy, but I’ve always been terrified of it. The moment I hear the words “Would you like to pray?” I usually break into a cold sweat and immediately begin planning out a speech, word for word, in my head.

It’s completely ridiculous, especially because God is not an editor waiting with a red pen to mark up my prayers for sentence structure. Yet, sometimes I feel like we, as humans, judge prayers. It’s almost like we want to hear “Oh, that was such a beautiful prayer” after we say amen. But what if it wasn’t a beautiful prayer? What if I miss all the supposed requirements or repeat myself too frequently or *gasp* completely freeze and leave several seconds of silence?

First, this is a pressure I completely put on myself. No one is going to pull me aside and let me know that my prayer was “subpar”, yet I stress about it anyway. Second, God is not a publishing house. He does not care if my words are eloquent. He cares about where my heart is when I speak those messy, fumbling, sometimes desperate words.

To be perfectly honest, my favorite prayers, the ones I cry out from the depths of my soul, are most often a single word or phrase. They become a chant that I cry out and repeat over and over inside my head. I pour myself into that word.

Sometimes, there is power in simplicity. So here are some of my favorite, insanely short but equally effective prayers:

Help!

No more than a single world, sometimes this is the only prayer I can manage to form. When fear, panic, sadness, or desperation overwhelm my ability to string together a beautiful sentence, this is the word I cry out.

Help. Help. Help.

Sometimes that’s all I can say. Lord, you know my situation, you know my heart. I need you. Just… help. I don’t have the strength to continue, I am utterly lost, my heart is shattered.

Help.

As a writer, this is a prayer I chant when I’m feeling discouraged. When I’ve received rejection after rejection, or when I feel the desire to quit. Help.

“I lift my eyes unto the hills, Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Thank You!

Joy and overwhelming gratitude can steal our words as effectively as grief, and those are the moments I chant “Thank you.”

I know that all good gifts come from the Father, and sometimes those gifts are so wonderful, so exciting, that all I can do is thank Him. Over and over. Thank you, Lord, for blessings that I don’t deserve and yet you bestow upon me anyway. Thank you for being a loving Father that delights in giving gifts to his children.

These are the moments that your e-mail dings with a notification that you finaled in a contest, that an agent wants to see more of your work, or even just a comment from someone saying how something you wrote inspired them.

Thank you, God, for this call to write you’ve placed in my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1

Please!

We are creatures filled with desires, wishes, and dreams. There are times where I want something so badly, that all I can do is cry out to God. The Bible tells us to bring our requests before Him, that he knows the desires of our hearts.

That longing within us can be consuming. It can burn away like a flame, and all we can do is beg “God, please! Please! Please! Please!”

Like a good protagonist, we have goals and established motivations behind those goals. It’s essential to place those goals into the hands of our Creator because, also like a good protagonist, we sometimes need to change our goals. What we want at beginning of a journey may not be the same desire at the end, and that is especially true for our writing.

The prayer of “Please! Please! Pleeeeaase!” is the desperate prayer of a child to her Father. This is the chant we use when we submit to that contest, that agent, that publisher. The answer may not end up being the answer we want, but that’s not up to us to decide. We can still make our requests known, and just have a “thank you” or “help” prayer on hand when we finally get our answer!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

What’s your favorite simple prayer? Share it in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “When We Can’t Find The Words To Pray

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