I didn’t know that I was hiding. I’ve always been good at praying.
Or so I thought.
My daddy left when I was seven. I’ve always looked to God as my Father, my provider. I didn’t realize God wanted to be more than just my provider.
God longed to be my soul’s confidante. Deep where I felt lonely — where I struggled to receive and make space for me — God wanted me to rest as His beloved.
Because at the end of the day, even though I had accomplished a lot, I didn’t feel like I had fully lived. Because what I really wanted, I didn’t make space for: peace and joy. I did not nurture my soul with God.
I found it easier to take care of others and get things done for God, rather than be vulnerable with my needs.
But God showed me prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved and known, rather than a spiritual transaction to be made better.
Praying touches the part of me that is in process, uncertain, full of questions and doubts.
That is why praying is hard to do. And when I didn’t know how to pray, it made me feel ashamed.
Jesus understands and whispers –
Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Although this is Scripture, in our Christian culture, our desert prayer times are often met with well-meaning encouragement like, “Relationship with God isn’t a feeling.”
Although partially true, this can de-humanize our connection with God. The psalmist reminds us there are no easy answers.
He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103:14)
Sometimes, it takes more faith to tell God we don’t know how to pray — rather than praying for faith to pray like we used to.
This is how I began to discover God’s “whispers of rest“ – powerful Scriptures affirming God’s love for me and learning about soul care: practical ways to feel God’s peace and presence!
I started learning how to love myself the way God loves me. I began researching ways to spark joy and take simple actions to prioritize my well-being, which I wrote about in Whispers of Rest, a book that has just released.
To my delight, I uncovered many soulful ways to pray even when I felt too stressed to know how. Here are five:
5 Ways To Pray When You’re Too Stressed To Know How
1. When you’re overwhelmed, whisper His name.
Remember receiving a first love note? It didn’t have to be long. Yet your heart felt known seeing your handwritten name. It kept you company in the daily grind. Whisper His name and listen for His echoes return in the quiet. God names the stars and He whispers your name.
“He heals the broken hearted . . . He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.” (Psalm 147:3-5)
2. When you don’t have words to pray, rest knowing Jesus is praying for you.
Your silence will not drive Jesus away. Nothing can separate you from His love. Not even your unrest. He’ll never get tired of you. Sometimes, the greatest prayer we can experience is God’s complete understanding and compassion. His presence.
“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died . . . is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
3. When you are too stressed to pray, take care of you.
We are a generation who doesn’t know how to express our souls to God, even though we drive ourselves exhausted, doing for Jesus.
Chronic overloading is not a spiritual prerequisite for authentic Christianity. Quite the contrary, overloading is often what we do when we forget who God is. — Richard Swenson.
Extend yourself the kindness and comfort you generously give others. Ironically, the times we most need God’s comfort are the times we deprive ourselves of soul-nurturing time.
We feel selfish. Yet, God says, we can only comfort others, with the comfort we first receive ourselves. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Instead of layering on guilt, let God love you through your choices to prioritize taking care of you.
4. When you feel numb and don’t want to pray, invite Jesus into your world.
Instead of struggling to reach Jesus, invite Jesus to enter your world. Research in a NY Times article shows the power of writing your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. Even 15 minutes of expressive writing makes a difference.
When we journal our stories with God, we give Him space to re-write our stories with us. Don’t you get ah-ha moments as you write?
“For the word of God is living and active . . . piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit . . .” (Hebrews 4:11–12)
“Word” is the Greek word logos, which translates as living voice. God is not limited to the written word. God uses everything living to speak into our lives. This includes journaling.
5. When you’re too exhausted to pray, stop and rest.
“Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:7)
Elijah had done everything he knew to do—even defeating the prophets of Baal. Yet, his problems did not go away. Stress broke Elijah’s spirit. In despair, Elijah woke up to find fresh bread baking on hot stones and water—left just for him.
Not only that. God sent an angel—to touch him—twice.
God knew Elijah needed physical rejuvenation first in order to hear His gentle voice, whispering in a gentle breeze.
So, when you find it’s hard to pray, don’t be afraid. You’re standing at the very cusp of who God longs to connect with. The real you.
Take the time to rest. You’re worth it! Just rest.
Pull up a chair: What helps you experience God’s peace and presence when you feel to stressed too pray?
By Bonnie Gray, author of the new 40-day devotional detox Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revlitalize Your Soul. She invites you to refresh your soul with God’s love at TheBonnieGray.com.