Sometimes life gets complicated. And sometimes, when we come to pray, that seems complicated too. How do we pray? What will be the best outcome to pray for? There is a temptation to try to figure it all out and pray accordingly.


But the following story illustrated beautifully how we might approach a conversation with God about such a situation:

A grandfather was walking past his young granddaughter’s room one night when he saw her kneeling beside her bed, with head bowed and hands folded, repeating the alphabet.

“What are you doing?” he asked her.

She explained, “I’m saying my prayers, but I couldn’t think of just what I wanted to say. So I’m just saying all the letters of the alphabet, and God can put them together however he thinks best.”

What a great way to pray! Leave it all with him!

  • We don’t need to go over the whole situation – God knows it.
  • We don’t need to figure out a solution and pray for that – God’s solution will be perfect, and way beyond what we could engineer, if we were able.
  • We don’t need to strive to please him with perfect, articulate prayers – He knows our hearts, our grieving, weeping, confused and helpless hearts.

So next time you are struggling to put words together in prayer, just tell God to work it all out according to what he knows is best, and relax into him.

9 Responses to When I don’t know how to pray

  • I often find I don’t know how to pray and when I think I do it’s because I’ve worked out a solution to a problem and then present that to God as something God should do. The example you give of a child’s trust is so helpful. We don’t always need words to offer ourselves and the concerns of the world to God. Jumbled letters, thoughts and feelings are OK in private prayer. Sometimes silence is better – or tears, or laughter or just a simple phrase, “your kingdom come”.

    • Lin:

      I love your thought, Nancy, that sometimes silence is better, or a simple statement of trust and acceptance like, “Your will be done.” That expression isn’t simply a “get out” of exercising faith, it can be an act of faith and very liberating. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Sherriden:

    This message you posted today was exactly what I needed to hear…I too struggle with prayer and therefore feel guilty about not doing it as often as I should or in a particular manner. It is more about just having a conversation with our Lord and to keep it simple. I am blessed by reading this today and just wanted to say “thanks” so much!

    • Lin:

      Sherriden, I am so pleased that you found the post helpful. I agree with you that prayer should be more a conversation (all through the day and not only at a time set aside, good as that is). Your comment has been an encouragement to me. Thanks for joining in the discussion.

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  • This was a beautiful thought and well written. I truly enjoyed it!

  • Got a great deal fo comfort and confirmation from this Lin…both my sons where heroin addicts and when my oldest Barry died I found words very hard but tears aplenty….God knew and he healed my heart and took away the intense pain to leave only the happy memories,with my other boy Craig I could sometimes only say Lord you promised to save my household and cry just over and over but now Craig has been clean for 3 years and is a Christian….my answer to prayer was when he walked into church over 3 yrs ago looked at me and said ok am going to give Him a try….so I know it’s not the words….God is good:)

    • Lin:

      Thanks, Mags, for sharing that heart-break and joy with us. What you have experienced is a lesson to all of us. Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

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SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!