When I Don't Know What to Pray

By Pastor Kim Eskridge
Have you ever found yourself at a loss in knowing how to pray? Not so much lacking words but feeling conflicted about what it is, exactly, that you should pray for in a situation?  Although seldom at a loss for words, this is where I find myself with something in my life. For a couple of weeks now, I have been uncertain about what I even want and even less sure of what would be best. Let me share some ramblings about what God has been showing me.

Most of the time, we don’t seem to have any trouble thinking of specific things to ask of God. In fact, there might be a tendency to act as though He is our personal Santa Claus or a magic Genie waiting to make our fondest wishes come true. This approach to prayer is something that we work to guide our children away from as they grow and develop in their faith and in their ability to better understand God’s ways. But I think that it lingers to some degree in all of us. An oft-quoted verse at first glance seems to even encourage this:

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. -- Matthew 21:22

There’s a lot to unpack here; maybe in another blog post. The issue that I have been grappling with is when I don’t know what I want to ask of our Lord, regarding a particular situation.
Those who know me well know that I am a planner and that I like to get into the details and plan for different scenarios. Solving logistical puzzles is a joy for me. I like to have the answers, to know the plan. As you might imagine, this proclivity has led to some struggles between God and me over the years. Thankfully, He has helped me to be at peace under His leading, whatever is ahead, and the previously all-too-common wrestling matches for control are much rarer.

He is so faithful, and even when I can’t come up with words, He has an answer:
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. – Romans 8:26

Our Lord knows everything, He knows us, He knows our hearts, and He knows what is best. In the end, we don’t have to know what the best thing is. He already knows. We just need to pray that His will be done. Even though Jesus knew what He wanted on the night that He was betrayed, He also knew what was best, and on that night our Lord prayed for that:

Going a little farther, (Jesus) fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” –Mark 14:35-36

If you have ever read any of the Mitford books by Jan Karon, you know that the main character, Father Tim, often prayed the prayer that never fails: Your will be done.  That’s it. That’s where I am. I still don’t know what specific thing to ask for right now, but I don’t need to know. I can pray this prayer:

Lord, may Your will be done in this. I ask You to give me peace to accept whatever that is, and I ask for You to move in the hearts of everyone involved. Your will be done. Amen.

Vacation Bible School is next week, and I have no lack of specific prayer requests for this potentially life-changing week. I invite you to join me in prayer for:
  • Safety and health for all involved.
  • God’s grace and love to be revealed to the children and their families through all that we do.
  • God to be pleased and glorified.
  • His will to be done.




no categories


no tags