I was asked a couple of Sundays ago: What should I do when I don’t feel like praying? There are days, seasons, or events in all of our lives that sometimes seem to paralyze our hearts and leave no words available to us for prayer.
When this happens, the first thing to do is to remember that God is still there. He is with you in whatever you are walking through. He saw what brought the grief, or the anger, or the frustration. He is there in the depression, the addiction, the pain of rejection, the times of uncertainty. Your first step is to trust that He is right where Matthew 28:20 states He said He would always be –He is with you – now and always!
Next, simply think about the One who gave you life, who gave you Eternal Life, and who is Himself Living and Active. He has not abandoned you. His presence surrounds you. Soak in the awareness of this reality!
Turn your thoughts to Him. Take your thoughts and your eyes off of the difficulty, the dryness, the sadness, the anger, or whatever is keeping you bound up and put your eyes and thoughts onto Jesus – the One who can lift you out of the darkness or transport you from the desert. Worship is the best way to do this. Turn on your favorite worship music – even if you don’t feel like it. Surrounding yourself with the tangible life-giving words that feed your soul is crucial if you are to be able to express your heart in prayer.
Sometimes all you can voice is silence, so in the silence…listen. Perhaps He does have something to speak to you if you will allow Him the opportunity. How sad for us when we don’t listen to God until the moments when we are unable to speak to Him. Learning to listen well should always be a vital part of our prayer lives. Prayer is two-way communication within this love relationship with our Father.
If you want to express something to God, let it out – it might just be a scream, a rant, or a groan. Rom. 8:26-27 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”
This is an absolutely astonishing gift! It means that when you don’t have a clue what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit comes alongside your heart and aligns it with the Father’s heart. He expresses your inward thoughts or lack of thought. He gives voice to your prayer when you have no voice of your own. He aligns your anguish, depression, anger, situation, weariness, etc. with the perfect will of God even as we struggle to find words to communicate with Him about it.
One other thing to consider when you “don’t feel like praying” is that you may be involved in sinful thought or behavior that is eating away at you, and making you feel guilty. Take time to examine your heart, thoughts and motives to be sure that if what is needed is repentance and asking the Father for forgiveness, you take care of this right away. Psalm 51 is a powerful prayer of repentance to use and when you don’t feel like praying, King David’s words will give you your voice!