Prayer: when you feel guilty for not praying

*This is the fourth post in the series, “Spiritual discipline for real women with real lives”.

I know I should pray; I want to pray, I feel guilty every time I hear a sermon about prayer because I honestly want to have a disciplined prayer life, but I’ve never been great at praying.

And, if I’m completely honest, I don’t understand prayer. At all. Why would Almighty God, who knows all things, need me to talk to Him and ask Him to intervein in the situations I find myself in? Sometimes, seemingly randomly, He does something unexplainable and amazing and answers my prayer. Other times, nothing. Why?

I don’t understand how it works. I don’t know why God answers some prayers and not others. But this I know. I need to pray.

The Bible says a lot about prayer. And it’s clear from all the verses in all the contexts, prayer is a vital part of our spiritual growth and relationship with God. But there is no formula to follow. There is no guaranteed way of twisting God’s arm into complying with our request. Prayer remains a relationship-building mystery of faith. 

I don’t know how prayer works, but this I do know—when God does answer my prayers, it strengthens my faith exponentially. Answered prayer changes everything! There is no fertiliser for faith growth like a miracle I prayed for.

Prayer is vital to our spiritual growth, but it is difficult to understand and we feel guilty for not being disciplined. Download this free printable to learn about prayer. #prayer #biblereadingplan #printable

I am in ministry. People come to me asking for prayer, expecting answers. To be perfectly honest, I struggle with this because I know that I can’t do anything to help anyone who comes and asks me for prayer. I’ve got nothing to give. Nothing.

One Sunday after church I was down the front during the prayer ministry time as usual, and a lady I hadn’t seen before came with her young son. She walked cautiously towards me, the I’ve-got-nothing-to-give me and asked for healing of her son’s rash. He was suffering and the doctors had no answers. This little boy needed a miracle. 

So, I put one hand on this little boy’s shoulder, and I prayed the very best rash healing prayer I could muster. It was a simple prayer; there were no fancy words. My head was telling me how ridiculous I was, while my mouth was claiming God’s healing and my heart had a tiny mustard seed of faith. 

I found out the following Tuesday that the boy had been healed. God did a miracle.

Wow!

The next Sunday I had so much faith I nearly stood on my chair and shouted, “Does anyone have a rash? I have a rash–healing prayer that works!” I didn’t, but, the next time someone gingerly walked to the front of the church asking for prayer I had a little more faith in my heart, and a little more confidence in my voice. 

When God answers prayer, our faith expands! 

I don’t know why God heals sometimes and not others, but I do know that God heals and so I will keep praying for healing. I don’t know why God answers some prayers and not others, but I do know that God answers prayer, and so I will keep praying.

The disciples saw the power of prayer and asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus lesson was a short and simple prayer that gives God all the glory and reminds us to submit our lives to Him and ask Him for everything we need (Luke 11:1-4).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught to keep your prayers simple and private (Matthew 6:5-8). Eloquence is not necessary; a platform is not necessary; an audience doesn’t help. A simple prayer, offered in faith to our Heavenly Father, is what God asks for. Simple, childlike faith.

What does this kind of prayer look like in a normal busy life? 

I admire the people who carve out significant time to pray. I respect people who have beautiful prayer journals and war rooms and a disciplined routine. I do not doubt that it adds a lot of richness to their walk with God, it's just not me.

When we turn our worries into prayers we remember that God is in control and we don't have to carry our burdens alone.

I turn my joys into prayers

When I see a beautiful sky, witness an act of kindness or hear a child laugh, I praise God. The first sip of coffee early in the morning, the warmth of sunshine on my face, the petals of a rose softly folded together, the feeling of clean sheets. My life is full of wonderful blessings! As I enjoy my life, I express my gratitude to God in simple prayers of joy and thanks.

The journal I use has a space to write down what I’m grateful for. There are many gratitude journal tools available, but don’t just be grateful—go the next step and thank God for His blessings!

I turn my worries into prayers

When I’m struggling, when I don’t know what to do, when my mind goes over and over that conversation that didn’t go well, I pray. Turning my worries into prayers is a powerful practice in trust and submission. It acknowledges that God has control, that He is big enough to deal with my circumstances, and that I do not have to carry my burdens alone. We magnify what we think about. When we dwell on our struggles, they just get bigger and bigger until we are drowning. When we turn these worries into prayers it shrinks them back to size and magnifies our powerful God.

I pray with people I’m talking to

When a friend or colleague share a challenge with me, I ask them if I can pray for them. Somehow, articulating the concerns in prayer brings peace and hope into the conversation, because that is who God is, and that is what He wants for us. It takes courage sometimes, and it can feel a little awkward at first, but I've come to love these opportunities to serve my friends by praying for them. It even works over the phone!

When we pray it gives God room to move in our lives. It opens the door to amazing possibilities. I don’t understand why sometimes my prayers go unanswered, but I will continue to pray! Because, when God shows up and the miracle happens, I want to be in the front row!


Want to dig deeper? Sign up here and receive a Bible reading plan exploring prayer. These verses will challenge you to pray bold prayers and be in the front row for your miracle.


Read other posts in this series, “Spiritual discipline for real women with real lives”.

  1. How to build a strong foundation

  2. Why you should read the whole Bible

  3. 16 ways to fit more Bible into your day