When I feel frustrated, irritated, impatient, or just in a bad mood, an argument always takes place in my head.
My mature Christian self says, “You really should pray and ask God to help you let go of this negative attitude.” But then my stubborn, childish self crosses her arms and says “I don’t want to and you can’t make me!”
The stubborn little girl won more times than I care to admit before I finally understood, the times you don’t feel like praying are the times you need to pray the most.
Prayer removes negative feelings and fills us with God’s peace, love and compassion. Prayer changes our perspective; shifting our focus from the seen to the unseen, from the temporary to the eternal.
But unless we possess an incredible amount of willpower, knowing we need to pray is not enough to push past “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me.” We need to takes steps which gently lead us into prayer.
5 Tips for Starting a Prayer When You Don’t Feel like Praying
1. Ask God for the desire to pray.
Praying is just talking to God, so start by being honest. Tell God you are in a bad mood and you don’t feel like praying. Then, ask Him for the desire to pray. Don’t worry about following a prayer formula or addressing God “correctly.” God is not put off by our bad moods; remember how often David cried out in despair to God in the Psalms? God will respond to our honesty and a sincere desire for a “want” that aligns with His will for us.
2. Read written prayers.
Grab your prayer journal and start reading. When you find a prayer that speaks to your situation, read it again, and actual pray it as you read.
If you don’t currently write down prayers, I encourage you to start. You don’t need to write down every prayer, but take time to craft prayers addressing your common struggles. Even reading one or two prayers brings your focus back to God, and can help jumpstart your prayer time.
Other options include using a book of prayers, or having a prayer board on Pinterest (just don’t get distracted by your Pinterest feed and forget to read prayers).
3. Read scripture out loud.
Since our goal is to shift our focus to God instead of how we feel, reading a book about God is a good place to start. Reading silently to yourself can create this shift, but reading out loud engages more of your brain and keeps you focused on the words. Plus there is something powerful about reading God’s words aloud.
While any scripture will do, I highly recommend reading a Psalm of praise like Psalm 145. Praising God naturally lifts our mood and leads us into a prayer.
4. Sing along to worship music.
Similar to #3, singing praises brings our focus onto God’s goodness, which is our source of joy. When I am being extra stubborn about not praying, I turn on praise and worship radio and just listen to the lyrics of a few songs. Eventually I start singing along, sending the lyrics straight to God.
5. Ask someone to pray over you.
If you cannot bring yourself to pray, or to even try any of the above suggestions, ask someone else to pray over you.
Ask your spouse, who can physically lay hands on you while praying. Or call a friend who is willing to pray over the phone.
Jesus tells us “where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). You don’t need to speak the words in order to be covered in prayer.
Often starting a prayer is the hardest part when we don’t feel like prayer. These 5 tips work as a jumpstart for your prayer. You can even tell that stubborn little girl “okay, I am not going to pray, but I am going to read (or sing, call a friend, etc.).” As you shift your focus to God, He will respond; for He is compassionate towards those who seek him.
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Kira Bridges is pursuing joy by seeking the life God intended for us. She blogs at Joy Pursued, sharing lessons learned and resources to help women draw close to God and experience His joy. Living in the sunny part of Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two dogs; Kira believes living with joy is a lifelong journey and would love for you to join her. You can hang out with her on Facebook, and Instagram.