Prayer can be a struggle. We want to pray, but often wonder what to say. I know I have.
In my twenties, I battled depression and anxiety. The “lead, guide, and direct” prayers I heard growing up were no help.
Desperate, I began attending a women’s Bible study. There I heard prayers that were different than mine. When I heard the teacher pray, her prayers were filled with life and seemed to shoot straight toward heaven. Over time, I learned why. Her prayers were filled with both God’s Words and hers. She turned scripture into prayer.
My life began to change as I studied God’s Word with others and learned to turn God’s Word into prayer by listening to others pray.
One of the first verses I turned to prayer was Psalm 4:8, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Why this verse? Anxiety tends to worsen at night. My mind would race and try to preemptively solve imaginary problems or prevent potential dangers. I learned to pray: “God, you alone, not my plans or strategies, keep me safe. Because you are God and I am not, I will lie down and give up my problem solving. Because you are my safety, I will rest and have peaceful sleep.”
It took time, but I eventually learned that safety is not in a place or in a plan, but in a Person – Jesus.
Do you struggle with knowing what to say when you pray? Reading and studying God’s Word will help you pray. Want to know you are praying God’s will? Pray His Words.
This is where the Psalms are so helpful. They are prayers that we can model our own prayers after. We can learn to frame our requests with God’s character, faithfulness, and promises. Like the Psalmists, we can pray:
- God, this is who you are
- God, this is what you have done for your people in the past
- God, this is what you have promised to do
- God, this is what I need today
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress [name your problem]; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. I thank you that you hear me when I call to you. When I am angry, help me to keep silent and not seek revenge. Let the light of your face shine upon me today, O LORD. You fill my heart with joy. Because You are my safe place, thank you that I can sleep in peace. Amen.