6 Ways to Pray When You Feel Spiritually Stuck

Try these creative tips to refresh your prayer life and grow closer to God 

Posted in , Apr 4, 2019

A woman's hands holding a a lit red candle.

Our conversation with God—like any other dialogue we have with friends and family—can grow stale at times, especially if we don’t devote consistent time and attention to prayer. 

But with a little creativity, effort and some of the following strategies, we can skip those all too common dry periods and jumpstart our prayer life once again. 

1. Meditate on Scripture

A good first step is to return to the Word of God, because there you will find direction and comfort for any number of life’s dilemmas. Joining a Bible study provides a structured, guided way of delving deeper into scripture. However, sometimes I like to simply open up my Bible and meditate on random passages. 

Returning to my favorite Bible verses as prayer prompts helps me to connect with God: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3: 5). Check out some more ways to meditate and memorize scriptures

2. Write a letter to God

When I feel stymied in my faith or struggling with a specific situation, I will pen an honest letter to God, cataloging my fears and frustrations and asking for His help. I write from my younger self, describing my worries and hurts to Him much like I would to a loving mother or father. After I’ve composed the note, I close my eyes and try to hear a response. Although a clear answer isn’t always given, I almost always feel a sense of peace. I find letter writing to be an especially powerful expression that fosters a deeper intimacy to God.

3. Light a candle

Fire symbolizes the Holy Spirit, which is probably why staring into a flame stirs my heart. This natural element has been around for 449 million years, reminding me of God’s presence since the beginning of time and that everything changes except for Him. The flame sends a message of consolation—I am here—as well as prompts me to place all trust in God. It also calms me down and quiets the static noise around me so that I can hear God’s whispers to me.

4. Recite your favorite prayers

You need not say anything original to communicate with God. I often return to my seven favorite prayers when I want to connect with Jesus but have nothing to say: The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, The Bookmark by Teresa of Avila, The Third Step Prayer, The Memorare, Prayer by Thomas Merton, The Prayer of St. Francis, Prayer by John Henry Newman, and The Our Father. Although they are vastly different from each other, they all talk about a desire to follow God’s will while summoning his guidance. 

5. Repeat a mantra

Christians aren’t alone in using mantras to pray. For more than 3,000 years other faith traditions—first Hindus, then Buddhists—have used focused repetitions of a soothing word or phrase. Scripture verses make for appropriate mantras. For example, repeating “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) over and over again allows the wisdom of that passage to penetrate more deeply into your heart and soul. Or you might take a phrase from a prayer, such as “Let nothing disturb you” or “God alone suffices,” from Teresa of Avila’s Bookmark Prayer.

6. Pray with someone

Prayer doesn’t have to be solitary, of course. A good way to overcome complacency and tap the power of prayer is by talking to God with someone else. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” This can happen as part of a formal gathering or by the fireplace between two friends. You might find a prayer buddy, a person who prays for your intention and holds you accountable to a prayer practice.

Prayer life is like an exercise routine or a diet. Some days we have more discipline and energy for it than others. However, strategies like using scripture, mantras, favorite prayers, and candles can get us unstuck and back into an enthusiastic conversation with God.

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