In week three of the Discovering the Power of Prayer Blog Series, my dear friend and fellow blogger Jennifer Watson shows us how to pray even when don’t feel like it or we can’t find the right words to say.
There are times in our life where we wrestle with words and find it difficult to know what to pray, or even how to pray. When our hearts are in despair, our expectations of what God can do lower. Even though we know that our feelings are not facts, our feelings can still minimize who we know God to be and give us spiritual amnesia concerning all of the ways God has met us in our time of need and answered prayer. And so, our prayers become small and safe.
Are we praying small and safe prayers?
There’s a story of a man in Acts 3 who was carried to the gate of the temple daily who had been lame from birth. This had always been his condition-dependent on others to put something in his hand that could sustain him. He was dependent on the people who carried him to a place where he could be seen and, hopefully, leave that day with money and food to make it through the day. The next day he would be in the same place asking for the same things. But, God had a plan far greater than the temporary:
3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.[a] 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This man looked at the disciples expecting to receive something from them but, his expectations were too low.
As I read this passage, I felt like God was saying to me, “You are asking for something so small, but I am wanting to give you far more.” In my prayers I was expecting something, but I was settling for small and temporary instead of life altering and lasting. The thought that my expectations and my prayer life had become too calculated, safe, and small wrecked me. This is when I started to become familiar with praying scriptures, a practice that drastically changed my prayer life.
Here’s a thought: Why look for a handout when we can have the wholeness in Christ that we need?
Maybe you feel like the people that have hurt you have simply been carrying you to a beggars spot and you feel stuck. You don’t have to beg for the blessings of God. What you need is a breakthrough where you move beyond enemy lines to take hold of the promises of God by praying His Word over your life.
How we recover from low expectations and a stuck prayer life is by focusing on our God who is stronger than any doubts or challenges we face.
We can do this by understanding that the Word of God is alive and active and applies to us. We can move beyond reading the scriptures by saying this passage is for me personally. Each time we do this, our faith grows. We begin to look at our problems through lenses of faith instead of our feelings.
My prayer for you is this — that you will look to God expecting far more from him that what you are right now. That you will walk in faith and not settle only for what you can see. I pray that you and I will not be near-sighted spiritually but instead ask for the kind of blessings that make us leap and dance like it’s our very first time on the dance floor.
Going Deeper: Take a few minutes and make it personal by praying the scriptures. This is how we pray when we don’t know what to say.
“ … casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ …” 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)
Help me to understand that when I don’t know what to pray, you know my heart. I praise you because your Spirit helps me in my weaknesses and intercedes on my behalf. Right now, I am struggling with ______________________________________________________. But, I will cast down arguments and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. I will take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. Your Word tells me that you are not the author of confusion, but of peace. (1 Cor 14: 33) Help me to find your peace and rest in that. Show me the thoughts that have taken me captive and lead me to freedom in you in this area of my life.
In Jesus Name,
ABOUT JENNIFER // Jennifer Watson is a writer, youth minister, pastor’s wife, mother of two, and national speaker. Jennifer has been in ministry for nineteen years and is passionate about investing in the lives of others. Jennifer is a typical Southern girl with an undying affection of cupcakes and red lipstick. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.