What to do when you don’t know what to pray

Published 10:18 am Monday, July 23, 2018

By John Warren


I was overwhelmed by a tragic accident that happened to a dear friend of mine on his first day of retirement.

As he and his son were driving in one car, with his wife and her sister in a car following, a drunk driver struck them.

Sheldon lost his wife and son that night and he and his sister-in-law are still in rehab.

For a time, I didn’t know what to pray. I was upset, in shock and to be perfectly honest I was angry.

This family had been involved in ministry their whole adult lives. Sheldon met Sharon as she worked in the church and the first day of retirement this happens. Why?

So, I know I am not alone in this, so, I thought I needed a refresher coarse in prayer, so you get to sit in.

First off, God knows your heart and understands your pain. You do not have to hide that. You do not have to have special words.

Martin Luther said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.”

We have a prayer request time for our kids in Sunday School and I have heard many requests.

“Please pray for my mama to get rid of the floppy skin under her arms.”

Apparently little Will knew his mother was worried about this.

We have had “help my butt to feel better” to “help me find a friend in school” to “be with my grandpa he is going to have a operation.”

I think we should learn from the children in that we don’t have to have flowery flowing sentences.

One thing I always do is thank God for something; the sun coming up, the way I got through traffic this morning, the sizzling bacon in the pan.

I ask for prayers for people in my church.

Being a pastor I would ask you to pray for your pastor, we are human and are prone to making mistakes. And if you don’t know what to pray you can always pray the Lords Prayer and add to the end any special needs you may have.

Sometimes it helps to pray for your fears, “Lord, I start this new job today and I am afraid I will make a mistake and be fired, give me courage to learn and wisdom to listen and faith to carry through on what I have to do today.”

And if you are willing to be God’s follower, God’s disciple, which is what we are all called by Jesus Christ to be, you might just ask God to use you as one of his instruments to show others Jesus Christ.


John Warren is Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, 502 North 6th Street in Orange.