When It’s Too Hard to Pray

It’s pretty easy to thank God when ­everything’s going well. When you feel happy. When you have your health. When your loved ones are doing fine.

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

It’s a lot harder when some things—maybe most things—are not going well.

In those first dark days after my cancer diagnosis in 1990, I literally ­could not pray. Sentences simply refused to form. The ­only thing I felt I could utter was a desperate cry for healing. What else was there to say?

Image by Avelino Calvar Martinez from Pixabay

And then I read a Bible verse—one ­I’m sure I’d read many times before, but this time it seemed to jump off the page:

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress.
For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,
for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Romans  8:26-27

Two wonderful verses about how to pray when you feel you ­can’t pray. They were right there in the Bible, sandwiched between the Apostle Paul’s discussion of suffering and his explanation of how we can be victorious even in difficult times! (Read the whole chapter and you’ll see what I mean.)

Wow. It was okay that I felt that it was too hard to pray. The Holy Spirit would pray for me. He would take my “groans” that were too deep for words right to the throne of God. And even better than that, the Spirit would know exactly what to pray for me; He would pray accord­ing to God’s will.

After I found that verse, I would often just sit with my hands on my lap, palms toward heaven, tears trickling down my cheeks . . . praying.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I never said a word. I ­couldn’t even form cohesive thoughts in my mind, but I prayed. I simply allowed God’s Spirit to take my innermost thoughts, my deepest fears to God and pray for me.

How about you, my friend? Is there a hurt/loss/worry/fear so deep that you don’t have the strength or “right” words to pray?

Hear how The Message paraphrase renders Romans 8:26: If we ­don’t know how or what to pray, it ­doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

What an amazing God! He knows that at the times we need Him most, we may not be able to express ourselves to Him, so He has His own Spirit do it for us!

Take heart, dear friend, and believe that even when it feels too hard to pray…you still can.

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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the inspiring music video “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns, written by  band member Mark Hall the night he found out he needed surgery to remove a cancerous kidney.