What to Do When You Can’t Pray

There are countless ways to connect with the goodness of God in this world.

Posted in , Aug 14, 2018

Beautiful summer's day

It’s a simple question, heartfelt, and often takes me by surprise. Someone will say to me, “What do I do when I can’t pray?”

I usually want to say right back, “What do you mean you can’t pray? Anybody can pray. Everybody can pray. It’s like breathing. As easy as that. Like going for a walk. Like talking. Like closing your eyes and doing nothing. In fact, it can be all of those things.”

It’s easy enough to limit God. To make God into something so much smaller than God is. To create an image in your head of some big bearded figure sitting on a cloud up in heaven, frowning. Like what Michelangelo painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

I can see not being able to pray to a figure like that sometimes. It could be totally intimidating.

But God is bigger. Almost uncontainable. Unimaginable. I like how some people have described God as “isness.” The supreme being. The being that is in our very breath.

To pray doesn’t mean just thinking holy thoughts. Sounding divine. Like something you’d hear in church. When I bow my head to pray I’m sometimes surprised by all the noise inside. And I can assure you…it doesn’t always sound really holy.

When I was 14 or 15 and had to lead a prayer in church. I think I surprised more than a few members of the congregations when I started out by saying (in complete innocence), “Hi, God.”

Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians exhorted them (some 2000 years ago) to “pray without ceasing.”

That would be impossible if it meant wearing a solemn face, clasping my hands together and muttering saintly words. “Hi, God” is just fine. Say what’s on your mind. Have a talk. Unload. Be silent. Say nothing. Listen. Sing a song. Be with a friend. Be with your family. Let someone know you love them.

To pray is a way to connect with the goodness of God in this world. And I think there are as many ways of doing that as there are people on earth.

Can’t pray? You can’t not pray. Just try. You can’t fail. 

Tags: Prayer,Faith,God
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