How to Pray When You’re Not Good at Praying

With the lights turned off and the blankets tucked right under my ear, I lay my head down on the pillow and get ready to say my nightly prayer. And then . . . crickets.

The pressure to say everything correctly and remember every prayer request weighs me down to the point where sometimes I just close my eyes and go to sleep instead. On the nights when the pressure isn’t quite so heavy, I pray through stilted sentences that feel far too formal. Or I get frustrated that I keep repeating things because I don’t know what else to say.

Prayer shouldn’t be this hard.

If you’re like me, speaking out loud (even in your head) doesn’t come naturally. The pressure to pray correctly becomes a hindrance in your prayer life, and you start to feel distant from God because you don’t know how to communicate.

Let me tell you something: It’s OK. God understands you. He knows you. Don’t get in your own way. Prayer is too important to give up on, especially when it comes to living a missional lifestyle. Everything must start with prayer.

If you’re struggling with prayer, I want to help you and grow with you. Whether you are planning to go on a missions trip, feeling nervous about witnessing to someone, sensing the need to pray for someone you just met, or needing to spend time with the Lord, prayer must come first.

Here are a few tips to help you (and me) when you struggle with prayer:

  • Whisper your prayers. This is easiest to do when you are alone, and I believe this is what helps me the most. If your mind tends to wander or you struggle to put your thoughts in order, whispering a prayer really helps you concentrate on your time with God in a quiet manner.
  • Write your prayers. Find a nice journal (or even create your own) and write down your prayers and thoughts to God. He hears your prayers, no matter what form. A prayer journal is a great way to gather your thoughts and pour out your heart to the Lord. It’s an added bonus that you can look back at your past prayers and see the work He has done.
  • List your prayers. Keep a running list throughout the day, week, or month of prayer needs in your life and the lives of others. This way, you won’t feel the pressure to remember everything at one time. Pray through your list. If your list seems long, pick out the most pressing prayer needs first and pray for the others later.
  • Find a mentor or partner. Seek out someone to mentor you in your prayer life. Or become prayer partners with someone who is also struggling. Accountability is key. Creating a relationship with a prayer mentor or prayer partner can lead to a consistent, committed prayer life.

Let’s work together to make sure we don’t get in our own way in our relationships with the Lord. Commit to 1 or more of these tips to help you pray as you set out on the missional journey Christ laid out for us.

Do you have any prayer tips you would like to add? Do you sometimes struggle with prayer and want to speak with someone who understands that feeling? Send me an email at I would love to hear from you!

Jessica Graham is a copy editor at WMU. She considers it a blessing to be able to help women her age discover the meaning of faith, community, and missions.

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