How to Pray in a Difficult Moment

When facing a near-impossible situation, here are words of prayer that may help.

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Posted in , Mar 26, 2019

A prayer for the moment

I had lunch with a friend who is going through a grave problem. It’s a situation similar to something I faced a couple of years ago. She had a difficult conversation coming up and asked me for guidance. “I don’t know how to do this!” she told me, her pain echoing across the table. 

I suddenly had no recollection of how I’d gotten through my own near-impossible situation. What hit me instead was a visceral recollection of the terror of groping my way through darkness, unsure of what to do and uncertain if there was a way out.

Blank-brained and bereft of wisdom, I reached for a prayer I have prayed thousands of times: Holy Spirit, give me the words.

A moment later I said, haltingly, “When you are in a really dark place it isn’t enough to reach for God in advance, saying ‘God, help me say the right thing.’”

I paused and prayed again, Holy Spirit, give me the words. The next thought came.

“We have to connect with Him before each sentence we say.”

I paused a third time, just long enough to pray my prayer again: Holy Spirit, give me the words.

“Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words He wants you to say. If a thought comes to mind that was not there before, speak it.”

Holy Spirit, give me the words.

“If nothing comes to mind, remain silent. Don’t give in to the temptation to say what you want to say. Say only what you are given.”

Holy Spirit, give me the words.

I took a sip of water. My friend nodded.

In the silence that followed, I remembered one thing that had helped me get through my near-impossible situation: I’d learned to use inching-forward prayers. These were the small, step-by-step whispers like Holy Spirit, give me the words that repeatedly, relentlessly reached out for God. They were the prayers that asked Him to show me one thing to say or do. For in very dark times, the only way to take the next step, say the next word or do the next unfathomably difficult thing is to seek His presence in every moment.

Tags: Faith,Fear,Prayer
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