When You Don’t Know What To Pray

Years ago, Meredith and I decided we wanted to start praying together before going to bed. It seemed like a good idea, but often it turned out to be frustrating.  I found myself not knowing what to pray. It was kind of embarrassing. I had no problem praying in front of dozens, even hundreds of people, yet I was struggling to pray the simplest of prayers with my wife.

My problem was that by the end of the night my mind was usually fried and feeling rather uninspired. And so when it was my turn to pray I usually found it hard to focus and pray for anything meaningful.

Things changed when we decided to start reading Scripture before we prayed. This for me was a Godsend. Because now I didn’t have to think about what to pray, I could just pray back what was in the text of Scripture. I felt like it was God’s way of saying, “I’ve already taken care of the words, just pray them back to me.”

Praying through Scripture is something I come to thoroughly enjoy–especially when it’s the Psalms. The Psalms are God’s little prayer book– a hundred and fifty God-breathed prayers. They are the prayers Jesus prayed. And when I pray the Psalms I feel like I identify more with the life and heart of Jesus.

If praying through Scripture is unfamiliar to you, I would encourage you to give it a try. Below is a couple examples of what it can look. The prayers are based on Psalm 16.

Psalm 16 

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” 4 Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. 5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. 11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

  A Prayer of Praise

Oh Lord you are our refuge. Apart from you Lord, we have no good thing. You, oh Lord, are our portion and our cup, you are our security and inheritance. We praise you Lord Jesus, for you give us wisdom and truth throughout the day. We desire to keep our eyes always on you. With you at our side we will not be shaken. Our hearts are glad, and our tongues rejoice in you. For in you we find rest, and we know that you will not abandon us. You, Jesus, make known the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy, and eternal pleasures at your right hand! Amen.

A Prayer of Confession

Lord God, we confess that we have run after other gods. We have sought our significance, our success, and our security in things other than you. We have looked to created things to fulfill us, instead of you–our Creator. We have not looked to you for refuge. We have not run to you for good things. We have not sought the joy of you presence. For all these things we repent and ask for forgiveness. Amen.

As you can see praying through Scripture is just a matter of reflecting back what is already in the text.

The more I pray through the Scriptures, (especially the Psalms) the easier and more enjoyable it is to pray without the Scriptures. It is like learning the language of God. Which makes it easier to talk to God. And thus,  keeps me from wondering what to pray.

 

What are you favorite Scriptures to pray through?

 

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For a great resource on praying through the Psalms, check out: