How do you talk to God when you can’t or don’t know how to pray? There are no rules for talking to Jesus, and you won’t find rote prayers here on She Blossoms. Instead, here are five tips for talking to God when you’re not sure about praying.
The subject of your prayers – whether you’re praying for healing, a relationship, a job, or something you’ve been struggling with for a long time – is important. But, more important is the fact that you want to talk to God. Your desire opens your heart and spirit to His presence. Your thoughts have power to start creating change in your life! Even if you can’t or don’t know how to pray, your desire to talk to Jesus is awesome. And He will honor your desire, even if you can’t find the right words.
Don’t run away from God. Run to Him, and you will be blown away by His power. You will be swept into Jesus’ arms and lifted higher than you imagined possible. Your life will blossom, and you will thrive in ways you could never plan or hope for. All this from learning how to talk to God when you can’t pray? You bet!
These five practical tips for talking to God are inspired by Abraham’s encounter with Jesus. Yes, Abraham met Jesus in Genesis 18. That’s when three men appeared near his tent; one of those men was none other than God Himself. Abraham (then Abram) also met God in Genesis 17, which I mentioned in How to Change the Way You See Yourself. Since nobody has seen God face-to-face and lived to tell about it, Biblical scholars say that “the angel of the Lord” in Old Testament times was actually Jesus.
But we’re not here to reflect on how, when, and why Jesus appeared in the Old Testament. We’re here to learn how to talk to God when you don’t want to pray – or you can’t pray. Why? Because we want healthier, stronger relationships with Him. We want to communicate and interact with God in deeper ways, so we grow further into the truth. The more we know about God, the better we can respond when we meet Him.
5 Ways to Talk to God When Praying Doesn’t Work
Knowing how to talk to God will improve your relationship with Him, lift your spirits, and heal your soul. The benefits of having a healthy personal relationship with God include — but aren’t limited to — peace, emotional freedom, spiritual strength, courage, self-forgiveness, wisdom and joy. He may also bless you with a loving family, faithful friends, fulfilling work, and luxurious gifts. If so, rejoice and be glad!
This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and it’s inspired by Genesis 17. This is the chapter in the Bible where God and Abraham talk about the blessings to come for Abraham, and the destruction to come for Sodom and Gomorrah.
You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my tips on how to talk to God when you can’t or don’t want to pray. Just keep an open mind and consider new possibilities. Remember that new beginnings blossom from tiny seeds of life. This article — How to Talk to God When You Can’t Pray — is one of those seeds.
1. Respond immediately when you hear His voice
Genesis 18 begins with “Then the Lord appeared to Abraham…” When Abraham saw Jesus, he ran from his tent and bowed to the ground. He offered his three visitors food, water to wash their feet, and rest. The first few verses of Genesis 18 are filled with words like “hurried”, “quickly” and “ran.” Abraham wasted no time — he immediately responded when he met God. At first he didn’t know for sure who his three visitors were, but he knew they were special. Something was different about them, and Abraham immediately talked to God with faith, grace, and generosity.
Don’t make God wait. In What to Do When You Hear God Calling I share practical tips for answering God’s call on your life. Here’s what I missed: the importance of responding immediately when the Holy Spirit whispers to your heart — or shouts in your ear! Don’t fidget with your phone, money, fears or doubts. Don’t let God’s call and your heart grow cold. Set your mind on the fact that you’ll immediately talk to God when He shows up, even if you don’t feel like praying.
2. Bow low and be humble when you talk to God
When Abraham met Jesus and the other two men near his tent in Genesis 18, he was beyond polite and hospitable. He called Jesus “Lord” and said “please do not go on past your servant.” Abraham asked for permission to give Jesus food, water, and rest. He said he wanted to give Jesus and the two angels sustenance so they could strengthen themselves for the journey. And Abraham demonstrated an important tip on “how to talk to God”: Give Him the finest of flour, biggest of loaves, and choicest of calves from your eager, willing heart. Your offering isn’t about the things you give God, it’s about your heart.
What can you offer Jesus? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have nothing to give Jesus. You, in fact, have the one and only thing He wants: Your heart. God wants your heart, spirit, soul, mind, and life. And you are the only person who can give that to Him! Your mom, dad, husband, sister, pastor or favorite teacher can’t commit your heart to Jesus. Only you can. And that’s the only thing He requires of you. So, when you want to talk to God but you can’t pray, just bow low and be humble. Offer Him the only valuable thing you have: your faith. Tell Him you don’t know how to talk to Him but you want to. Tell Him you don’t know how to pray but you feel Him calling.
3. Talk about other people with God
The more I learn about Abraham, the more respect I have for him. He’s not just the father of many children and tribes, a man chosen by God to build a great and powerful nation. In Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back I wrote about Abraham’s lack of belief and mistreatment of Hagar. But as I’m reading all of Genesis and writing this She Blossoms Through the Bible series, I’m learning how faithful and obedient Abraham was! This man advocated for people he didn’t even know. In Genesis 18: 20 the Lord shared His plans for destroying the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because of how bad they were. They were abusive, corrupt, and destructive. They hurt innocent people and children, and they were destroying themselves. Abraham knew that if God gave Sodom and Gomorrah what they deserved, He would also sweep away the innocent and righteous people. So Abraham humbly and boldly kept asking God to save the city…and God said yes.
How often do you really pray for others? I rarely do. I’ll say a quick prayer for my friends, family, and She Blossoms members to be healed and find joy…but I’ve never advocated for people the way Abraham did. This is one of those “how to talk to God” tips that anyone can do. When you meet Jesus in your prayers today, talk about people who are struggling with heavy, black burdens. Tell God about them; remind Him that they need Him. You don’t have to be a strong “prayer warrior” to talk to God about people who need help.
4. Remember who God is — with God Himself
The reason Abraham successfully advocated for the innocent people in Sodom and Gomorrah was because he knew God. Abraham knew how holy, just, righteous, good, merciful and loving God is. Abraham remembered God’s characteristics with God Himself, he reminded God of who He is, and he asked God to respond according to His own character. Abraham couldn’t have done that without knowing God. Abraham met Jesus and talked about what he knew about the Lord. It wasn’t even about prayer, it was about simply talking to God.
One of my favorite ways to talk to God is to tell Him stories about Him. When I meet God in prayer, I sometimes reminisce about my past experiences, memories, etc. I tell Jesus how I felt when I moved to Africa, for instance, or healed from orthopedic surgery for my broken shoulder. The more I learn about God, the easier it is to talk to Him about who He is, what He’s done, and how He has changed my life. I don’t think about how to pray or worry that I’m not praying right. I’ve often felt I can’t pray because I don’t know what to pray for. But, simply talking to God about my shared history with Him makes me feel connected — and it reminds me of how much Jesus has done for me. Gratitude! Humility.
5. Expect God to respond in ways you don’t expect
While talking to Abraham in Genesis 18, God agreed to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the innocent…but the city ultimately was destroyed. God heard Abraham’s pleas, honored his argument, and granted his prayerful request. Abraham spoke from his heart, without complaining or asking why God couldn’t save the innocent people in the city. Abraham wasn’t concerned about praying the right way, or messing up his prayers, or forgetting how to pray. Abraham was specific about his request, asking for solid numbers. He didn’t talk to God with vague wishes. When you’re talking to God, don’t worry about feeling like you can’t pray or don’t know what to say. Just talk. Or write.
How do you feel when God doesn’t respond the way you want or expect? It’s so easy to forget that everything we get from Him is a gift. Every breath we take, every beat of our heart, every blink of our eye is an undeserved mercy from God. Every morsel of food, drop of gas for the car, penny we make from our jobs is a blessing we did nothing to deserve. Sometimes God responds to our prayers the way we want, other times He doesn’t. Who are we to say what He “should” do in our lives — or in the lives of our loved ones? We have no right to tell God which relationships need healing, who needs to change their ways, or what needs to be done. Jesus encourages us to ask Him for the world, to have faith and hope and belief…but not to demand or expect God to answer our prayers exactly the way we want.
Talk to Jesus your way, using your words and personality and emotions. Let go of the burden that you don’t know how to pray, or can’t pray. That’s not from God.
When you meet God, remember these five different ways Abraham talked to God:
- Responded immediately to God’s call
- Bowed low and was humble when he met God
- Talked about other people with God
- Remembered who God is — with God Himself
- Expected God to respond in ways he couldn’t expect
I’d love to hear what you think. How do you usually talk to God when you feel like you can’t pray? How did He respond? Your comments — big and little — are welcome below!
With His love,
P.S. If you’re struggling with a difficult decision or starting a new season in life, read An Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.