When I pray, what do I sound like? Is there a hesitancy, or an uncertainty—as though I am unclear on whether or not God would want me to pray this prayer, or that I don’t believe he might actually answer?
Do I kinda, sorta, maybe ask God to consider doing something?
I often forget that making a request of God in prayer is not something I should hesitate to do. Instead, more often I come to him with trepidation. I know that I have no reason to doubt God’s goodness. I have seen him answer my prayers time and again. I’ve seen him provide exactly what we needed as a family right when we needed it. I’ve seen him miraculously heal a young person in our church. He’s prevented Emily from dying, blessed certain opportunities, and given his yes to so many other things besides.
But still, there’s this part of me that lacks confidence when I pray, even though I know I don’t need to be that way.
I was reminded of this as our church learned from Hezekiah’s prayer 2 Kings 19, and our pastor encouraged us to practice what he called a “desperate confidence” as we pray.
So why do I do this, and how can I pray with the kind of confidence we see modelled throughout Scripture? Here are four suggestions:
I can remember God’s goodness.
Jesus encourages us to persist in prayer, to continually call on God. To approach the throne of grace with confidence. He is not a Father who, when his son asks for bread, would give him a stone. Reminding myself of God’s goodness helps me to pray with confidence.
I can remind myself of all the ways God has already answered my prayers.
I’ve shared a few of the ways I’ve seen God answer my prayers already. And reminding myself of these can help build my confidence. I know that God is going to answer. And more importantly, even if how he answers isn’t what I want, I know he is going to do what is right.
I can use simple and clear words as I pray.
Sometimes, the most powerful thing I can say is, “God, help!” Sometimes I have no more words than this. Sometimes everything I want to say gets caught in my throat and never makes it to my lips. And that’s okay. I’d rather speak two simple words if they convey what’s on my heart.
I can allow the words of Scripture to guide me as I pray.
At the same time, if I am struggling to give voice to what I want to pray, sometimes the best thing I can do is let Scripture—especially the Psalms—guide me in this. To let its words become mine as I pray the Scriptures God has inspired back to him.
Knowing these thing and practicing them doesn’t mean I’m not going to struggle to be bold in prayer. The kinda, sorta, maybes always creep in. But day by day, I can slowly grow in this area as the Holy Spirit enables me. And that is good news, indeed.