When the pain is excruciating, when it takes all you have just to stay conscious. . . Is a one-word prayer enough?
When you know you need the Lord but you cannot read the Word, you cannot focus, you can barely form the sentences to say a prayer. . . can you whisper a word? Just a word, as a prayer?
Yes! Recently during Rest Ministries Fall Bible Study many people shared that they do this, or are learning to do it.
God understands even when our prayers don’t make sense
If you have ever felt like you could barely put a complete sentence together, don’t not pray. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26) Sighing the name of “Jesus” will always bring you comfort. Eloquence is not necessary.
God has heard our prayers tied to tears
We have prayed, “Hear the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence” (2 Chronicles 6:19) and God has told us, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears,” (2 Kings 20:5). When you want to talk to God but somehow your prayers turn into tears, it’s okay. Rest in His presence and allow Him to comfort you.
Psalm 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.” If you feel lost about where to even start to pray, open your Bible to the Psalms and start reading it out loud to God. Chances are it will describe what you didn’t know how to put into words.
God knows what is in our hearts
We don’t need to try to impress God with our fancy words or flowing phrases. We are speak to Him as a child does to his or her father, crying out “Abba” (Galatians 4:6) There is power in the name of Jesus and Philippians 2:10 tells us, “. . . at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth. . . ”
God knows what is on our minds
We can’t “inform” God about something since He already knows. We don’t have to try to figure out all the details in our life before going to the Lord in prayer. “The Lord knows the thoughts of man.” (Psalm 94:11a) He knows your worries, your concerns, your fears, and He wants to cast them all away and give you rest and peace. You don’t have to have the energy to explain the “whole story” about your needs and desires when you are exhausted. Instead, surrender it over to Him and accept His unconditional love.
God understands our difficulty in believing during difficult times
Have you ever felt this way? “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” (Mark 9:24) When we cannot form the words to pray, we tend to think it is because we are not worthy to approach the King in our state of mind right now. Not true. We can come to God at any time, in any way. Seek forgiveness for your shortcomings and sins and ask for the hope that He promises.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18) People may tell you how to pray and provide all kinds of “rules” about doing it correctly, respectfully and with “enough” faith. But remember all of the factors above and “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Isn’t that freeing to know that through Jesus Christ, we can approach the God of the universe just as we are.
Prayer is created for us to be more intimate with God
We are inviting Him into our lives, to share our burdens, our worries, and even our thankfulness. “For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” (1 John 3:20) Prayer is a gift that God has given us to be able to freely communicate with Him. It is easy to start to think of prayer as something we are “supposed to be doing” –but it is the greatest gift God has given us, for our benefit. In the new year, let go of your preconceptions of what prayer looks like and just communicate with God.
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.