“Please help my sick goldfish live.” But my goldfish didn’t make it.

“Please make me 8-feet tall, like Daddy.” I’m 5’3” (or at least, I hope I still am).

“Please help me become a movie star someday.” I’m thinking that won’t happen, either.

Thankfully, God loved me too much to grant some of my funny childhood requests. While He has said “yes” to many prayers, some of my prayers still remain unanswered. I’m learning to accept that I may never get an answer, but God still wants me to pray. He wants you to pray, too.

Everyone struggles with prayer at some point. Praying to an Almighty, Unseen God can be tough—especially when you feel alone or hurt or afraid.

I’ve found that feeling guilty over a less than perfect prayer life doesn’t help me pray better. When I find it hard to pray, it usually helps to consider what prayer truly is.

Prayer is not really about our requests or getting answers—it is more about our relationship with God. It’s the way we communicate with Him. Sometimes, I forget that. I get so caught up in what I want that I forget it’s a conversation. Prayer is an open and ongoing dialogue with the Creator of the universe. It can be enjoyable and uplifting. It can remind us of God’s love all over again, like it is brand new.

Anybody can pray. No matter if you are “religious” or not. It’s important to persevere through the struggle to find joy and meaning in prayer.

But how? Here are some ideas:

Acknowledge who God is in prayer.

Jesus did this when He prayed, “Our Father in heaven.” For some of us, acknowledging and praising Almighty God can be difficult—sometimes we just don’t have the words. The Bible is filled with praise, so we can use words right out of the Bible, pairing them with our requests. C.S. Lewis said, “We delight to praise

[God] because expressing praise completes the enjoyment.” So to really enjoy our prayer life, we must praise God as we pray.

Right now, I am offering a free eBook on prayer to my website subscribers called A Time to Kneel. It is a 14-day handbook of “prayer starters,” for anyone who may need a little encouragement. My goal is to give readers spiritual truths and words to use as they pray, helping them feel closer to God and to delight in the feeling. Here’s a sneak peak:



Appreciate what He has done.

Andrew Carnegie, the multimillionaire, left $1 million dollars for one of his relatives, who in return cursed Carnegie because he had left $365 million to public charities. Samuel Leibowitz, criminal lawyer and judge, saved 78 men from the electric chair. Not one bothered to thank him. Jesus had the same experience when He healed the ten lepers, save one.

Obviously, being grateful is not very natural for us; it is a learned behavior. God gives and gives, but sometimes it’s easy to forget to thank Him. Practicing gratitude is mentally and spiritually healthy. Make the effort to be thankful in prayer—it will draw you closer to God and lift your heart in the process.

Ask for things. It’s okay.

After we’ve thanked and praised God, it’s okay to make specific requests. David often asked God to hurry up and even gave Him suggestions. Sometimes I fail to ask directly for what I want. I fall for the old adage: “Be careful what you pray for, God might just give it to you.” As if God punishes us for asking for things–I don’t think He does.

The Bible is filled with direct prayers:

  • “Bless the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:17). In other words, “help me to succeed. At work. At home. In relationships. At being who you want me to be. Make my work profitable and significant.” Direct prayers often get direct answers.
  • “Give me a heart that understands” (1 Kings 3:5). We don’t have true understanding and wisdom apart from God, and yet we often fail to specifically ask for it. We can also pray for God to give others wisdom and understanding, too.
  • “Make a way for me” (Is. 43:19). God can make a way through the wilderness or storm. Many times our prayers for a way out or through are met initially with the answer of peace. Later on, we can look back and see that God gave us peace first and eventually made a way.

Sometimes, we don’t really know what to pray for, but we can ask God for anything. There is no limit to what we can ask. God is not a genie in a bottle who gives us only three wishes, yet sometimes I feel like I’m asking for too much. Paul said, “God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). So we should ask for everything that we need, and even for extras. It’s okay. God loves to give abundantly, but He desires us to ask for blessing in prayer.

If you are struggling to pray right now or feel distant from God, remember God is waiting to hear from you. He loves you, so persevere through the struggle to find joy your prayer life.

C.S. Lewis said:

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”




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