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When We Cannot Pray

“Lift up your hands, in prayer draw nigh.”

There are times in our lives when we cannot pray.  Of course, there are the times of rebellion when we won’t, and our busyness or sins can also keep us from prayer, but that is not what I’m talking about here.  What I’m saying is that there are other times when we simply cannot pray.  It seems, thankfully, that these times are extremely rare, but they do exist in some godly people’s lives.

After the death of her father, and even before it, one person told me.  During severe depression, another admitted.  When faced with unbearable confusion or unrelenting pain, some say. During extreme exhaustion, I know from experience.

What do we do then?  For those are the times we really need to be close to God.  Those are the times we can just run to God without words, just to be near him, without knowing what to say, perhaps even unable to think.

Then we are like a little one being comforted on a parent’s lap, eyes dilated with fear, clouded with tears, or hidden in horror, sobbing with fatigue or suffocating guilt. Or, in a biblical image, we snuggle close to God, finding comfort and safety under his wings.  There’s something else to note here:  it’s the parent bird who spreads its wings over the little ones, and it’s the father and mother who place the little one on their lap.

These are the times to remember that the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not know what to say and can no longer even think, the times to rest with God, trusting that he loves us and is in control and that he does know what he is doing.

“Be still and know that I am God,” we are told.

Yes, he is God, powerful and holy.  And he also is our Father who loves us and has compassion on us, for ever, no matter what, because of Jesus.   So, always, always run to God; or, if you can’t, reach out to him; or, if that is impossible, look towards him.  He is there; he holds onto you; no one can pluck you out of his hand.  He is God, our God.  He loves us, you and me.

It has been many years since I could not pray.  But I still remember with gratitude how one dear woman told me she had a list of mothers and daughters that she prayed through each day, and we were on that list.  Even now I am comforted by the fact that my parents pray for me and my family each day, and so do other people.  These are gifts, intangible, but more valuable than any other.

So, what can each of us do right now?  We can turn to God in good times and in bad, knowing that he is God. And we can remember to pray for others, especially those who, today, might not be able to.  And if, at this time, we ourselves cannot pray, we can flee to God without words, knowing he will hold onto us.

May God bless us all as we rely on him and pray for others.  Amen

If you have no one who prays for you and are looking for someone who will, contact me via the comments and I will get in touch with you by email.


  1. I am thankful not to be in a season of prayerlessness, although I am going through a rough season with one of my kids. It has forced me to dig in and keep praying even when I don’t see any hope. I get low and then He sends me a kind word from a friend or another unexpected resource to keep me going. My burdens lift! I can keep going. 🙂

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      I will pray for you and your family. May God bless your prayers, just as he blessed those of your Granny for you!

      I’ll send you an email.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I have taken comfort during those prayerless times in Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” In our weakness, He prays unutterable perfection over us.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, and what a comfort that is! God is so good to us!

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