Dear Dr. B,
Praying seems so hard, how can I choose the right words? Am I making it harder than it really is?
Praying but Perplexed
I’m glad you took the time to ask the question rather than giving up. Scripture says we have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and he would like nothing better than to convince you that praying is hard so that he can steal your zeal to pray, kill your motivation, and destroy your prayer life. So let’s determine together that that will not happen! Because Scripture also says that when two or more agree together, it will be done (Matthew 18:19).
In her book “Fervent: A Woman’s Battle to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer” Priscilla Shirer says that, “prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. Let’s debunk the first lie that the enemy has tried to feed you: prayer is not hard. Prayer is simply communication between you and God. Just like you communicated with me here, and just like you communicate with friends and family members, prayer is another form of communication. What may seem hard is learning to hear God’s voice for yourself, but Scripture promises “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27) and you will too!
The second lie that it appears that the enemy has fed you is the notion that you have to choose “the right words.” Friend, when it comes to communicating with God, He isn’t interested in you choosing the right words. He is interested in the state of your heart. He wants to hear how you honestly think and feel, for it is there that He has the freedom to work. So rather than being concerned about choosing the “right words,” share with Him what’s on your heart, like you would your best friend or closest relative. Be sincere, honest, and authentic. But unlike any human relationship who may let you down, God already knows anyway and he’ll never leave you, reject you, or abandon you, and He has already forgiven you.
In the Bible, Jesus modeled for us the perfect prayer when He prayed “The Lord’s Prayer”:
Our Father, ….
Which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
It acknowledges His greatness. It worships and praises Him. It makes our requests known to Him (also known as petitions). It also offers confession and repentance of those areas where we have missed the mark and sinned. So, the “ideal” prayer would include all of these components, but dear one, God is not interested in our religious formulas. He is interested in a relationship with His children. Sometimes our most sincere prayers are a simple “Help!” as we cry out to Him in pain or need. While other times, the most beautiful prayers are when we ask for nothing and simply declare, “God, you are amazing!” And then there are those times when we do not know what to pray, and Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).
Keep in mind too, that just like I mentioned earlier, prayer is communication with God, and in any communication there needs to be give and take. So don’t just talk to God. Also, spend time listening to hear from God. Prayer is not just an opportunity to tell God what we need or want. It’s the opportunity to hear His heart for us, as well as His gentle correction. And when you aren’t sure what to pray, ask Him to give you the words. Scripture says that when we lack wisdom, to ask for it and He will give it to us generously (James 1:5), and this includes what to pray!
Give it a try. If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.