What to Do When It’s Hard to Pray
3 heart checks before praying for yourself
It was just before midnight. Jan sat alone at the side of her sister’s bed in the hospital. She read Psalm 23 to her; God’s sweet presence and peace was evident, and then she took her last breath. She was now in eternity.
Jan’s sister was such a godly, praying woman. Their mother had imparted and modeled a life of prayer for both of them.
So, let’s look at the prayer factors.
- The value of prayer
We understand the significance and the value of prayer. Jesus teaches us to pray daily in Matthew 6. Prayer is simply connecting with God! We connect with God for ourselves and for others.
Connecting with God transforms everything – giving you a heavenly perspective and heavenly empowerment.
As oxygen is for the body, prayer is for the soul!
2. The impact of prayer
Heaven to earth – Jesus teaches us to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven” (Matthew 6:10 NIV).
Prayer releases the will and the purposes of God into every natural and supernatural realm. Bringing turn arounds, transformations, breakthroughs and the power of God onto the scene.
“Prayer is the umbilical cord from heaven to earth” (T.D. Jakes).
3. The power of prayer
According to Matthew 17:20, when the power of prayer is at work: the mountain moves, the door opens, the darkness dispels, the provisions are released, the obstacle shifts, the heart turns and the direction is revealed!
Terry Tekle states, “Prayer is the breath of God inhaled, and the power of God exhaled.”
With these foundational truths established in Jan’s life, she wondered why it was so hard to pray weeks after her sister’s funeral. She had prayed for others, but she wasn’t able to pray for herself. She felt numb to God’s presence.
Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Jan found her faith did not produce what she believed for and prayed — for her sister to be healed from cancer. At only 43 years old when she died, her sister left children, grandchildren and a vital ministry. And in spite of God’s presence and peace that was with her sister in death, Jan knew her hope was deferred.
Have you ever felt like your hope was set aside or your faith was put on hold? It’s a season in which your heart can truly be sick.
Why is it so hard and so difficult to pray for yourself in times like these?
Proverbs 4:23 is so true and is a much-needed reminder to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (AMP).
You are instructed to take care of your heart, pay attention to it and to watch carefully what goes in and out of it. You are to set a guard over your heart because it affects all that you are.
Pay very close attention to what enters your heart from others that may arise from circumstances. Watch for hurt, lies, pain, rejection, anger or any unforgiveness.
When it is hard to pray for yourself, it’s an indication you should do a heart check towards God.
When you experience what seems like unanswered prayer, or you’re discouraged by delayed answers, or you are just a little disappointed with God, it deeply affects your heart. These things can cause us to question God’s trustworthiness.
3 heart checks to consider when you find it hard to pray for yourself:
- Be authentic with God.
Tell God you are hurt by His actions or inactions. Let Him know you don’t understand and that you’re confused or angry at Him. He is not intimated by any of your feelings. God said in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (ESV).
It’s okay to not like God’s ways. It’s perfectly fine to tell God, “I don’t like your ways, but I choose to trust your ways, anyway!”
God is a safe place to open your heart fully to Him, even if it is ugly.
When you do, it allows all the toxicity to empty from your heart, emotions and mind, making room for healing and truth.
2. Revisit God’s faithfulness and sovereignty.
God is a covenant god – He is faithful even when we are not. His love is unconditional and eternal! His Word is true, but allow Him to be sovereign (unlimited, unrestricted and boundless) in every circumstance you face.
3. Rehearse God’s faithfulness.
Recall where in past seasons, God has been faithful to you.
Review the Scriptures.
- His Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).
- God watches over his word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).
His Word will fortify and strengthen your faith.
Make your heart strong.
After you have evaluated the condition of your heart, it is time to make your heart strong.
- Ask God to make your heart whole and to heal the wounded places. Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Heal me Lord, and I will be healed” (NIV).
Often, we can clear our hearts but fail to ask God for, and then receive from Him, healing in those places.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to pray for you. Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (ESV).
As you lean in and pray as the Holy Spirit leads you, He helps you to pray exactly what you need to pray. You might know what you truly need but the Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need and brings it to you from Father God.
- Offer the sacrifice of praise!
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15 NIV).
Even if it is a sacrifice for you to praise, praise Him anyway!
Praise and thanksgiving shift your mind, emotions and atmosphere to a heavenly perspective.
Jesus prayed for himself in Matthew 26:38-44. He prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If it is possible, deliver me from this, but not my will but your will be done!”
How hard was it for Jesus to pray for himself? It was possibly the most difficult prayer He ever prayed, and He prayed for many people, many times.
Do you think He struggled with not understanding God’s ways? It’s possible He did because of His humanity.
It is hard to pray for yourself when you experience loss, discouragement, pain, disappointment, rejection or just feel overwhelmed.
So, remember Hebrews 4:14 -16 ” So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (NLT).
Jesus identifies with you and gives you His empowering grace. Take care of your heart, so you too can wholeheartedly pray “not my will but your will be done.”