Tuesday 18 July 2023

How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Ask God For


It happens every time.

I’m sitting talking with God, and when their names come to mind, I hesitate. Perplexed and confused, I struggle to find the words to say.

Do you have one of those? A person, family, or even a situation that is so messy, so complicated that praying for them feels like wrestling with your faith.

I believe in the miracle of prayer. I believe that God wants us to pray general and specific prayers and to present all our requests to Him with thanksgiving. I believe that He delights in answering our prayers for His glory and our good. But I also believe that I should not pray for something if, deep down, I don’t believe it can happen.   

You see, faith ushers my prayer into God’s throne room. If I don’t believe He can do it, then my prayer is just empty words. I must believe that God is both able and willing to amaze us (and be glorified) through His answers to our prayers.

But when it comes to praying for this specific situation, I’m not sure what to ask God for. My faith struggles to envision what healing would look like or how God would reach into the multilayered pile of brokenness.

Moreover, I am so limited when it comes to understanding the ways of God - I don’t know if He plans to turn this dysfunction around for good. 

Yet, I know that He can. 

I want to pray. I am burdened to pray but don’t know how or what to pray.

So, I’m honest with God. I tell Him that I don’t know what to ask for, that I don’t know how much to believe Him for, but that I want Him to be glorified through it all. Then I ask for His help. And in His Word, I find the guidance I need.

Knowing God

I pray that my friend/family member may come to know God in a personal, life-transforming way. I pray that they will be surrounded by people who know and love God, who will point them to God. I pray that God will bless them with a desire to know Him more and more and that He would reveal Himself to them in ways that they would recognize. I pray for this because I am convinced that knowing God turns our darkness into light. I know that no matter how broken, dysfunctional, or without hope a situation appears, knowing God as our Saviour, Friend, and Lord brings life and hope.

Knowing Hope


I can’t imagine living in this world without hope. So, I pray that God-rooted hope will help my friend/family member make sense of the storms of life. I pray that this hope would blossom and flourish within them, that they will never be without it, and that they will see God working in and through their difficulties. I ask God to bless them with a hope that transcends this world and helps them to look forward to meeting Him face to face. And I pray they would be surrounded by people who continually point to the hope only God can give.

Use me, Lord

Then I pray for me – that I would love them like Jesus. And that God would reveal to me if there’s anything that He wants me to do to help them grow closer to Him in knowledge and hope and then give me the desire and will to complete it. Finally, I pray that God would guide my prayers for them, and I thank Him for hearing, answering, and delighting in my prayers for my loved ones.

Now, when I'm sitting talking with God and my loved one's messy circumstances weigh heavily on my mind, I can say humbly to God, "Lord, I don't know what to ask for, I don't know what good can come from this mess, but I know that knowing you more can bring Light into their darkness and give them a Rock to stand on. Please grant them the desire to seek You and reveal Yourself to them through Your Holy Spirit that they may know you better and be filled with Hope. Surround them with Your people and show me how I can help point them to You and love them like Jesus. Turn the situation around for good, dear Father and be glorified through it. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen." 

And then I rest and trust Him to do what only He can do.


What about you? 

How do you pray when you don’t know what to ask God for? 

And where do you find help when you struggle to find the words to pray?

May grace and peace be multiplied to you as you intercede for your loved ones,



  1. “Lord, I don't know what to ask for, I don't know what good can come from this mess, but I know that knowing you more can bring Light into their darkness and give them a Rock to stand on.”

    This is what spoke to me most today. I appreciate this timely post. Thank you.

    1. Trusting God to do what only He can do, Shaunelle! That is my plan. Glad you were encouraged; thanks for your support, my friend.

  2. I love how you are helping people to learn to pray! What an encouraging post to read today.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jennifer and for your kind comment.


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