I plop down on the bed and stare through my window at the spring trees blowing in the wind. God…God… I repeat internally, trying to muster up the feeling of connection I’m looking for.
But it doesn’t come. My mind wanders to the mundane things I have to accomplish today. Meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry… and what am I supposed to be doing today to get my book ready to publish?
I wander so far I end up at the end of a feeling I know too well: dread. It’s the origin of my anxiety. There’s something I’ve neglected and my soul feels unrest, but I can’t place what the unmet responsibility is. The elusivity of it eats at me, further increasing my anxiety, because, what if my mind is slipping?
“Lord,” I try again, this time out loud. “I’m a fickle human. I don’t have the words to express what I’m even feeling. But I know I need you. And if I don’t surrender this moment to you now I’ll go about today with all my might. And I won’t be any closer to you at all.”
Some days my times of prayer start like this. If I’m honest, sometimes they end there too. If it’s not because of busyness or lack of focus, it’s because I have waited too long to cry out to Him. He seems unfamiliar or I seem unworthy.
I don’t know about you, but that is my least favorite place to be.
When I find myself here, I usually try one of the following things:
Ask for the desire.
We often feel that we need to sit down with a full list of transgressions, to be able to clear the air, in order to be vulnerable with God. And we absolutely should confess our sins to him, but sometimes the conviction doesn’t come or the sins feel too great and we just can’t. Vulnerability with Him is saying, “I don’t want to talk to you. I need you to give me that desire.” That might be all you pray, but God is faithful even when we aren’t, and if you ask Him for the desire to want to be vulnerable with Him, you can be sure He will answer because He wants that too. James 4:8 says,”Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Say it out loud.
If you really just have a hard time focusing, try saying your prayers out loud. If I had a “prayer closet” I’d still find something else in there to think about because I’m just that unfocused. I’ve found that my best times of vulnerability with God are when I am alone and speaking out loud to him. If I go to my room and close the door, all kinds of things just come out of my mouth. Sometimes it’s awkward, and that’s okay. It might seem silly, but the awkwardness of starting something out loud and not finishing it, propels me to keep talking, even if it is to someone I can’t see.
Write it down.
When I can’t pray what I really want to because I can’t bring my mouth to form the words or because of little ears, I write. And let’s address this now – God is not PG. I’m not surprising him with anything I’m saying or thinking because he already knew it was in my heart. Pretending to be holy, especially with God, will never lead to true relationship. My heart is ugly and if I’m not confessing ugly things, I’m not being real. Some stuff my children may not need to hear right now, and it’s wise to protect them, but I am fooling myself if I feel the need to protect God from it. Writing out prayers is a great way to talk with the Lord. You might feel the need to burn it after, but usually a journal full of prayers is a great way to see how He’s working in your life.Pretending to be holy, especially with God, will never lead to true relationship. My heart is ugly and if I'm not confessing ugly things, I'm not being real. Click To Tweet
Prayer is mandatory in the life of a Christian. Not only are we commanded to do it (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6), but it’s integral in our relationship with God. It’s difficult to have a relationship with someone you never talk to! Next time you try to pray, but can’t or don’t feel like it for some reason, I hope you’ll try one of these things. It’s okay if you try it and the next day is the same. Try it again. Ask for the desire again. Show up again. He will keep meeting you there.
Tasha Wiginton is a writer, graphic designer, and creative entrepreneur whose mission is to create resources that help others know, love, and obey Jesus more by focusing on the truth of His Word. She is a mother to three kids and married to her best friend, Billy. She is the creator of Coloring Gospel Truths: A Devotional Coloring Book & Journal, as well as a co-founder of Fiercely Known. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @TashaWiginton.