How to Pray When You Don’t Have the Words

Have you ever been so broken that when you are praying, you don’t have the words to say? Consider these options when you are left with silence.

I totally get it – prayer can be such an awesome way to connect with God.

But let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t know what to say.

It can be so frustrating, right?

Especially when we need to lean on our faith even more during tough times.

But don’t worry, I’m sharing with you some creative ways to pray even when words fail us.

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Praying When You Don’t Have the Words

Last week was our “Not Palm Sunday” performance at our church.

Usually, every Spring, this falls on Palm Sunday, but this year, it was a bit earlier.

Our Worship Leader asked if I would take lead on one of the songs and I was thrilled to say yes!

That is, until I found out that my song opened the entire show. Yikes, right? Nothing like putting the pressure on.

And my hearts cry was to proclaim the name of Jesus through song, but I had a difficult time knowing what to pray.

I was gripped by fear of failure, pressure to perform well – let alone memorizing the words and melodic line!

I stumbled to find how to pray and was at a loss of words.

And I have been here many times before when an uncertain time in our lives was happening.

Then, I remembered a comment from a sweet friend a few years back about the ‘oohs’ and ‘ohs’ in songs.

They compared those wordless groans in music to Romans 8:26, which says:

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”

Romans 8:26

My solo in this concert just so happened to have lots of oh-ohs repeated over and over again.

This was an A-Ha moment for me because I find myself to the point of weeping whenever I sing praise songs with the words Amen, Hallelujah, or Holy in the lyrics.

The Power of Prayer is so much greater than our inability to form the words when that moment of overwhelm crashes into us like an ocean wave.

If you are facing a difficult time, here are some reminders of god’s gift of prayer when the lack of words won’t spill from our worried or broken hearts.

Praying with Music

As you know, Trent and I are professional musicians and still make a portion of our living offering our gifts and talents to others.

Music is such a super powerful way to connect with God and express our hearts.

When we can’t find the words to pray, we can listen to our favorite worship music and let the lyrics guide our thoughts and emotions.

We can even sing our own songs to God!

It doesn’t have to be fancy.

Just a few words or phrases that express our love and gratitude.

This is a great way to get creative and connect with God in a way that feels personal to us.

Embrace the Silence

When words escape us, silence can be a powerful way to connect with God.

King Louis chairs with Be Still and Know pillows next to a vintage desk with tobacco basket hung on the wall next to vintage printers trays

“Be still, and know that I am God”

Psalm 46:10

Instead of forcing yourself to come up with the perfect prayer, take a few moments to just be still and listen.

Sometimes we can just sit with our Heavenly Father and allow our broken hearts to rest in His healing hands.

You can do this in a quiet room, during a walk in nature, or even in the middle of your busy day.

This creates space for God to speak to you, and you might be surprised at what you hear!

One Word Prayers

Ever hear of the term ‘breath prayer’?

These are simple prayers that can be said in one quick breath. A short phrase that can be repeatedly prayed.

Sometimes, circumstances in like can take your breath away and all that comes out is a quick cry to the Lord.

Even in the Psalms, we are invited to pause and take a breath each time the word “Selah” is written.

It could be as simple as saying Jesus’ name, or asking “Lord, Have mercy!”

Here are some other prayers you can say in one breath:

” When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God” Psalm 13:3

“Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior” Psalm 17:7

“Give us this day our daily bread” Matt 20:11

Praying Through Tears

Have you ever been so upset and crying that you can’t even talk?

Like the type of crying when you are vocally wailing and having those double breaths or huffs in between.

I am an over-emoter and feel things very deeply. So there have been many days of my life where my tears were stronger than my words.

And in that complete brokenness, all I could do is call upon my Lord God to comfort me through my tears and wails.

And I’ve always felt the love of God in that moment of dark time.

The Psalms says:

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.”

Psalm 56:8, NLT

What sweet promises of God!

The Lord not only knows every hair on our head but also every tear we shed and collects those in times of trouble.

Praying with Scripture

Another way to consider praying when we don’t have the words is to turn to the word of God.

The Bible is full of prayers that we can use as our own when we approach the throne of grace.

The Psalms are loaded with words that express our deepest emotions and desires.

We can also use the Lord’s Prayer as a template for our own prayers.

Focus on each line and let it guide your thoughts and feelings. You can even personalize it by adding your own words and thoughts.

In times of wordless prayer, I turn to Psalm 23 which promises that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

It is a great Psalm to commit to memory to call upon the heart of God when you are struggling with bad things.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Psalm 23

Be Creative

Remember, there’s no one “right” way to pray.

We can get creative and find our own unique ways to connect with God.

We can write out our prayers in a journal, draw or paint God’s word, or memorize your favorite bible verse.

Maybe it’s talking to a family member about God’s love. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matt 18:20

The best way is to find what works for us and what helps us feel closer to God.

I hope this is encouragement for you if you are feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders right now.

Just because you don’t have the words to express what you are dealing with, Christ Jesus knows what you are facing and can give you peace abudantly this side of heaven.

Even through wordless prayers.

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Campbell! I’m glad to hear that the Lord moved in your heart. I pray that He continues to grow your faith during this time!

  2. I read all your blog, this blog made me emotional and i am wondering that i am going through the same problem i know it is easy to connect with God but 90% of people is going through depression, in this face of life we should get up and start connecting to God and pray, this is an very sensitive and emotional topic we all have to start connecting..