On the Journey
By Rick Hamlin

Write Your Prayer Down

One question I get asked frequently is how to pray when the words don’t come or you don’t feel like you’re in a prayerful mood or you’re not even sure God is listening.

We’ve all been there. Everyone experiences dry spells—even some of the greatest adventurers in prayer.

First of all, I don’t think any of us should be too self-critical. If God seems silent, perhaps I just need to listen harder. Or perhaps the silence is companionable, the way silence is at home on a Saturday morning when my wife and I are each engaged in our Saturday chores. The world is such a noisy place, perhaps this silence is meant to be a blessing.

But here’s an exercise that might help in prayer: Write your prayer down. Send it as an email to yourself. Or take out a pad of paper and pencil or pen and put down the things that are on your heart. My friend John Sherrill calls this “praying with a pencil.” It’s a practice he does first thing in the morning. The tactical experience of finding the prayerful words and putting them to paper keeps him focused.

My surefire method for praying when I’m feeling prayerful is to write a thank you note or send a thank-you email. Yes, it can be to God, but it can also be to another person, someone who has done something nice for me (and oh, my goodness, the people on that list are legion—just thinking about them makes me grateful). It can be someone you’ve seen recently. Better yet, it’s someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while. A teacher, an old friend, a relative who lives across the country.

“I was thinking of you today,” I’ll say, “and remembered that thing you did years ago...” The memory is sure to soften my spirit. Just the exercise of thankfulness, thankful even when I didn’t feel thankful, puts me closer in the mood of godliness. Try it.

Here at OurPrayer, we have thousands of volunteers who will pray with you and for you. Log on and write that prayer down. “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name,” Jesus said, “I am there.” Tell us your request. Tell us about your blessings. Two or three, or thousands, in cyberspace.

Can’t pray? Write that prayer down.

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts magazine and the author of 10 Prayers You Can't Live Without. To learn more about the book and explore your own prayer journey, watch this video.