When You Don't Know What To Pray

When I don’t know what to pray I like to look at Philippians 4:6-7 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I love this verse because it gives us direct instruction on what to do when we’re needing direction in our prayer lives. Not knowing what to pray isn’t an excuse not to pray. God wants us to come to Him with anything and everything. We could talk to Him about something as simple as our agenda for the day and He would love that time spent with Him.

Pray for guidance, joy, peace, or whatever you need at that point in time. God will NEVER turn you away, no matter how long you’ve been pushing him away.

Jesus Knows What It's Like

Jesus knew what it was like to experience poverty (Luke 9:58). Jesus was homeless, so he can identify with those who have to do without.

Jesus knew what it was like to experience exhaustion. Jesus walked everywhere he went. he had to deal with disciples who argued about who was greatest and didn’t get the lessons he was teaching, not to mention religious leaders plotting his death while he healed and fed countless people.

Jesus knew what it was like to be betrayed. He was betrayed by religious leaders and his own family (Mark 3:21). Peter denied knowing him and Judas sold him out for 30 silver pieces.

Jesus knew what it was like to suffer grief. Jesus weeps over the condition of Jersualem (Luke 19:41) AND at the death of a friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). See also Isaiah 53:3.

Jesus knew what it was like to be tempted. Although Jesus never committed a sin, he was still tempted (Hebrews 2:18).

Jesus knew what it was like to suffer. It’s hard for us to find meaning in our suffering this side of eternity. Jesus confided his emotional pain to this disciples (Matthew 26:38). And he obviously endured the physical pain of his extremely gruesome death on a cross.

Jesus knew what it was like to feel forsaken by God. God the Father had to turn his face away from His Son while he became sin on the cross in our place (Matthew 27:46). And as for us, we are never forsaken even though that feeling ight be strongly felt (Hebrews 13:5).

Jesus knows what it’s like to be human. He was fully human. He got hungry and thirsty. He slept. He had to learn things. He grew. He loved. He was glad. He was angry. He prayed. He exercised faith. He read the Scriptures. He cried. As the old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus says, “Jesus knows our every weakness.”

What a massive comfort to know that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

God's Home in Us

John 14:23 says: Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”

It is astounding that God Himself would make His home in us. Is there any greater privilege than to be in the fellowship and presence of Almighty God?

We are the choice that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made. We were created in the likeness of God from the beginning of creation. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We are agents of Heaven enforcing Christ’s victory on Earth.

That the God of the universe would want to love us is hard to conceive. That He would want to visit us might be amazing enough, but the triune God is making a home with us!

There is nothing greater than to feel His love and to know that He is listening to me and enjoying my company as I am enjoying His.

Faith's Object is the Promise of God

Abraham didn’t just believe in God in general; he believed a specific promise God had made, and he adjusted his life around it.

And because Abraham “was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do it…it was credited to him for righteousness (Romans 4:21-22).”

Tim Keller says, “Saving faith is not believing that God is there. Further, it is not believing in a God who saves. It is believing God when He promises a way of salvation by grace.”

Faith’s object is the promise of God. Faith is believing that God will do what God said He’d do and adjusting your life around that promise.

Paul goes on to make the bridge to us in 4:23-25, “And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.”

Just like Abraham believed God WOULD send a son that would bring salvation into the world as he was promised, we believe that Jesus IS that Son.

Four Areas to Listen for to Point People toward Jesus

Jeff Vanderstelte offers four areas to listen for in every story, frustration and situation, where we can intervene and point people toward Jesus.

  • Identity: Who or what shapes their understanding of themselves? Where do they find personal value and worth, instead of God?
  • Brokenness: Where are things “different” then they are supposed to be? What are areas of pain, hurt, and frustration? Who or what do they blame instead of sin?
  • Redemption: What or who do they look to, to fix the brokenness? What or who makes everything right?
  • Hope: What does “right” look like? What would everything look like once everything is fixed?

Peter's Advice on Sharing Your Faith

Peter (in 1 Peter) says that as we live a holy life; as we pursue faith among the Gentiles; as we respond to marriage, authorities, and even suffering in the power of the Gospel, people will be curious. As we shine the light of Christ into darkness of unbelief, people in the darkness will see the light. So at some point, someone will ask about your life and your faith.

Peter tells us to prepare in advance. 1 Peter 3:13-16: Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

He gives us some advice on how to do that: make it hopeful, personal, succinct, gentle, and respectful.

A hopeful, personal defense: The defense is of YOUR OWN faith, so it will be personal. It’s not a list of objective facts; it’s about God’s work in you, which gives YOU greater hope than anything else does.

A succint defense: People won’t listen to us for too long. Keep it short and sweet, depending on their interest.

A gracious, respectful defense: Not argumentative. Gentleness and respect asks us to humble ourselves and consider the perspective of the other person. Our ready defense should disply the gospel, even as we declare it. We demonstrate the character of God, even as we stand up for our faith.