When I Don’t Know What to Pray

Sometimes silence is golden. In a world riddled with marketing messages that assault our brains at every turn, silence is rare. It’s precious. It’s fleeting, and it should be sought after for reflection – to slow down the pace of life and reflect. Think. Pray.

Silence is also terrifying.

In the silence, there’s only you. Your thoughts. Your heart. You are confronted with the terrible reality of yourself and you find there the wealth of insecurities, double motives, and shallowness. It’s in the silence that you play the “what-if” games about your future. Your family. Your friends. With no sound to dull your internal monologue it’s only you and the reality of the real.

Sometimes, in those moments of overwhelming silence, you simply don’t know what to pray. Or at least I don’t. I don’t know the right way to ask or what to ask for. I am overwhelmed by the daily onslaught of responsibilities as an employee, a husband, a father, and a minister. I open my mouth to break the rigid quiet and nothing comes out. I don’t have the words. Not this time.

So what do you do when you don’t know what to pray? What do you do when there looks to be no way out of a given situation? What do you do when the loneliness or the pain or the stress is too much? What do you do when you feel like you can’t pour out your heart to God because it’s so full that it feels empty?

It’s at moments like these, I think, when the discipline of Scripture memory comes to our aid. It’s for precisely times like this that we’ve hidden the word of God in our hearts. It’s on these occasions, when we don’t have the words, that we use the words God has already given to us.

You look deeply inside yourself and you find all the things that terrify you – the sin. The insecurities. The doubt. The fear. The anxiety. And then, huddled away in a corner, you find the flickering ember of the word of God. And that’s where you go. That’s where you draw from. And you begin, not with your words, but with His.

“When I am afraid I will trust in God. In God, whose word I praise, in God alone I will trust…” (Psalm 56:3).

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted…” (Psalm 115:6).

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my Salvation…” (Psalm 62:5-6).

Over and over the words come, and you let them come. It’s at these times, when you don’t know what to say, that you trust in the word of the Lord which gives voice to your deepest longings. And the fear of the silence is overcome with faith.

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  • Karyn Maloney says:

    Silance is key! this is what the lord is driving home in my heart. i will endevour to rely on this that the Holy Spirit will intercede for me when i dont know how to ask.

  • Nate O. says:

    Scripture memory is something I was more diligent about in the past, but need to be more disciplined(by God’s grace) to begin again.

    Great word, thanks.

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