Last week I wrote, 5 Reasons Prayer is Essential for Adoptive and Foster Moms, and I promised to share three ways of praying that carried me through our hardest parenting season and continue to be essential to my prayer life.
What if you feel you can’t pray?
There are so many reasons we may feel this way. Lack of time and energy are at the top of many moms’ lists. Mental fog and stress are other factors. Doubt may grab you – why pray when it doesn’t seem to make a difference?
Over the years I’ve found three simple ways to pray when life is too hard and I’m discouraged, or too busy and I’m overwhelmed. In the darkest days of my life, these simple ways of praying held me close to God when I could hardly get through the days.
3 Ways to Pray
1| Pray without Ceasing
It may seem counterintuitive, but when we’re completely overwhelmed we need to pray without ceasing. You may be thinking, “What? How is that even possible?” Stick with me.
The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
How do we do this when we’re barely making it through our days? Oh friend, this is when we need to press in all the more.
Pray a simple phrase, short enough to be said in one breath, repeating it over and over as needed. It’s that simple.
Let me share some examples:
1. Lord, have mercy.
2. My help comes from the maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2
3. When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3
4. Not my will, but yours. Luke 22:42
5. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Let me share a story about how powerful this practice of the ancient church became in my life. I prayed the last prayer in this list off and on over the years before our adoptions. After the children came home and life spun out of control, I couldn’t think clearly. I couldn’t put sentences together under this level of stress. Fear flowed through my veins.
I began praying this all the time – when I shut myself in the laundry room and fell to my knees or when I lay awake in bed in the darkness of night. It became woven into my heart.
When we had our tragic car accident, the impact knocked me unconscious and I was trapped in the car as it lay on its side in a farmer’s field. At some point, a man got down on the snowy ground, reached through a broken window, and took my hand.
When he spoke to me, I came into awareness. I don’t know if I answered him, but I realized my lips were moving. I was quietly praying, “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” When I was terrified and in pain, this is what came to my barely conscious mind.
Choose a scripture, a phrase from a hymn or worship song, or something meaningful that speaks to you and pray it when you need help and hope from God.
2| Hold Them Before the Lord
Another way I often pray, especially in difficult times, is to simply hold the person before the Lord in my mind. I imagine them at the foot of the cross or in the arms of Jesus.
When we don’t know what to pray or don’t have the right words, the Holy Spirit does. I take my thoughts, words, and hopes to the throne of our good Father.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Roman 8:26-27
3|Pray a Psalm
A third way to pray when we’re at a loss is to pray a psalm by simply reading it, silently or aloud, and claiming the words for ourselves.
Consider Psalm 23; words like this may comfort you:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps. 23:4
Psalm 13 is also beautiful, ending with these two verses:
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Ps. 13: 5-6
With 150 psalms to choose from, you’re sure to find one that expresses your heart and thoughts.
In the hardest and most overwhelming times, don’t give up on prayer. Try these three simple ways of praying. Draw close to the Father and He will always meet you.
I would love to send you weekly encouragement. We weren’t meant to foster and adopt in isolation; we need friends who understand. You can sign up HERE.
With courage, hope, and so much love,
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