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How to Pray When You Don't Want To

  • Rachel Dawson What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • 2016 Dec 15

Sometimes, I just don’t want to pray.

There, I admitted it. I was raised in a Christian home, I accepted Jesus at a young age, and I’ve never strayed far from my faith or my church, but there still are many days I just don’t want to pray and many days that I never pray a word.

Sometimes, it’s because I feel ashamed of sin in my life, or because God feels distant. Sometimes, I just don’t feel like I have anything to say, or I don’t really want to address what’s going on in my life and talk to God about it. Other times, it’s because I get too caught up in all the busyness of my life, and I forget to prioritize prayer.

When my prayer life is lacking, it can be so easy to feel extremely guilty. It can be hard to start praying again once I’ve fallen out of practice.

I know the Bible talks often about the importance of prayer, and I know how often I fail to follow through on living up to what Scripture commands of me as a believer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray continually” and Philippians 4:6 advises “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Mark Jones asks an important question in his article “What If I Don’t Want to Pray?” for Desiring God: “How can we reignite our prayer lives in a way to bring back the consistency that we all desire while we struggle on earth?”

We are never too far gone to come back to our Heavenly Father, and even if it’s been days, weeks, months, or years since we last prayed, we can always begin a new conversation with him today without guilt, fear, or shame.

Here are five tips that will help us get back on track in our prayer lives:

  1. “Begin every day with God.” This is the first tip Jones shares, and I would argue it’s the most important. In a time where our smartphones are now our alarm clocks, it’s easy to grab our devices and instantly start scrolling through what we missed while we were sleeping, but that’s not a great way to start a new day. “Why should you dedicate a part of the morning to God?” Jones asks. “Because you cannot afford to not speak with your Father in the morning.” Beginning the morning in prayer will help us set a foundation for the rest of the day and will help us set our eyes and our hearts on the Lord above all else.
  2. Record your prayers on paper. This has been one of the most encouraging and meaningful practices of my prayer life over the years. Writing out my prayer requests and my praise to God (often in letter format) has helped me process through things in my life and present them to the Lord as I write. It’s incredible to look back over the years of prayers in my journals and see how faithful the Lord has been to provide for me, even when his answers to my prayers looked nothing like I expected they would. These prayers tell the story of God’s faithfulness, his grace, his mercy, and his unending love for me, and I’m grateful to have them to look back on.
  3. Pray throughout your day. It always intimidated me that the Bible says to “pray without ceasing” -- how could I possibly pray nonstop throughout my entire day? As I’ve grown and matured in my faith, I’ve realized that the command is really about keeping an ongoing conversation with my Father. Taking moments throughout my day to thank God, to praise him, to give my worries and anxieties to him, and to ask him for wisdom and guidance is something that’s now become ingrained in me, and it isn’t nearly as intimidating as I once thought.
  4. Pray through Scripture. “The book of Psalms are an excellent place to start,” the Inside BST team writes in this helpful article. “There are psalms for when our souls feel troubled (Psalm 6), for when we are filled with joy (Psalm 30), for when we are praising His deeds (Psalm 66), for when we desire revival (Psalm 85), for when we need help (Psalm 109), and for all other emotions we experience as well. Here are five other powerful prayers straight from Scripture.”
  5. “Close every day with God.” As soon as my head hits the pillow, I know I’ll fall right asleep, so I make sure to take a few moments to pray in the evening before going to bed. “We should be thankful for the end of the day as God’s provision of rest, for a place to lay your head, and for the health of body and peace of mind which allows you to sleep,” says Jones. Reflecting on the day that is now finished and giving God thanks for all he has done and will continue to do in your life is a great way to close out the day.

The more we pray, the easier it is to pray more. We need not be intimidated by the Bible’s advice to pray constantly, but we can be encouraged as we read throughout Scripture how powerful prayer is in our walk with the Lord. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” We can always return to the Lord in prayer, and he will always welcome us back into the conversation with open arms.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Publication date: December 15, 2016

Rachel Dawson is the editor of