What to Do When You Don't Know What to Pray
When we pray, we are sometimes speechless. That is, we don’t know what God is up to in our lives, we don’t know what he wants from us, and we don’t know what to pray. I’ve felt this way many times before. Paul did, too. He writes this in Rom 8:26, “We do not know what to pray for as we ought.” Have you ever felt this?
The nature of this problem boils down to our inability to discern God’s will. We might know what God says in Scripture, but we are unsure how Scripture applies to our specific situation. The Bible is clear but how we apply the Bible isn’t.
Our ignorance, though, does not hinder God’s plan of salvation. Specifically, with reference to prayer, it is through our confusion that the Holy Spirit works in us. Paul puts it like this in Rom 8:26–27: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” How does the Spirit do this? “The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words . . . The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” These verses point to a profound mystery—the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we have no idea what to pray for.
In this life, confusion regarding the Lord’s will is bound to come. When that happens, what should you do? Be aware that God is aware of your confusion. He knows how you feel. Confess to the Lord that you “do not know what to pray for as” you “ought.” Tell him that you need the Spirit to intercede for you “with groanings too deep for words,” and that you believe “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” In other words, cling by faith to God’s promise in Rom 8:26–27. God is at work in us, even when we are too confused to see it or feel it. How amazing is that? Glory be to God!