I’m going to be painfully real for a moment. A few weeks ago, anxiety and depression really took over and gave me an awful week. From Monday to Wednesday, I had 3-4 panic attacks. I let things slip because some days, I just didn’t have it in me to fold a basket of laundry or make dinner. I felt useless, and even worse, hopeless. In those times, I needed to pray the most, yet I found it the hardest.
I know I’m not the only one who finds prayer difficult when it’s most necessary. Mental illness, grief, anger, and sickness can all hinder our prayer lives. So how do we pray anyway? Here are some ways that God has revealed to me. I share in the hopes that they will help you too.
Get Honest with God
I used to have a terrible habit that hindered my prayer life: I told God what I thought He wanted to hear. I worded my prayers to sound eloquent and spiritual. I never expressed anger, hurt, or questions. I thought that to do so would be a betrayal, a sign of unbelief. But in censoring my prayers, I put up a wall between myself and the one who created me.
There was never a point in trying to sound eloquent– God knew my heart. There was never a point in holding back my feelings– God is big enough to handle them. Just as a parent desires for their children to be honest with them, how much more does our heavenly father desire that from us? Once I broke down the wall, my communion with God became richer and sweeter. Tell God everything; even if it’s unpleasant, even if He already knows, your Father still longs to hear from you.
Ask for Help
The idea of asking God to help you pray almost sounds silly, doesn’t it? It’s like if I walked up to a friend and said, “I’m not sure how to talk to you. Will you help me talk to you, even though that’s exactly what I’m doing right now?” While talking to God is like talking to a friend in some ways, it’s more than that. It’s a spiritual act that brings us closer to Him. So why wouldn’t the enemy wage war on our efforts?
Actually, God is already aiding our prayers. The Bible says that even when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings beyond words. Ask God to break down whatever wall stands between you and a vibrant prayer life. Ask your Christian brothers or sisters to intercede with you as well, because where one or more gather in His name, He is there.
Pray the Scriptures
The Bible is full of God’s promises to us. So often in scripture, we see heroes of the faith quoting those promises back to God in prayer. They don’t remind him because He’s forgotten; they remind themselves that God is faithful, and will always do what He says He will do. I often find myself praying for peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7), or that God will make a way even in the wilderness (Isaiah 43:19). He has already promised these things. All we have to do is ask.
Praying is hardest when we most need to do it. But when you run to the Lord anyway, the blessings are indescribable. Run to him today.
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