How To Pray When You’ve Run Out of Words

Ephesians 6:18: …and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying…

For the last 5,850 days I’ve awakened with a prayer for a loved one burning in my heart. I’ve had thousands of prayers answered in my life, some were even miraculous, but the answer to this prayer is still in the making. I believe what I am asking for is on the heart of the Father, and so it will be done.

But where do I find the words for the 5,851st prayer?

I don’t want to be like the pagans that Jesus mentions in Matthew, that think they will be heard because of their “many words.” But, on the other hand, Jesus praises the persistent widow because she kept coming with her plea and didn’t give up until it was granted to her. I do want to be like her.

So I guess it must not really be about the words, many or few, but the heart behind it.

I know Jesus says that if I’m worried and unbelieving that my prayers are worthless. It is through faith that my prayers are answered, but how do I pray believing again, and again and again….

There are days when, “Help Lord,” is about as far as I get… It isn’t lengthy, but it’s sincere.

There are days when I say, “I want to believe Lord, please help my unbelief.”

There are times when we just sit in silence together.

There are times when there just aren’t words in the English language and the Spirit must take over and pray the Father’s heart and will.

There are days when I turn on worship music and sing the prayer another has written for me.

There are times when I’ve been at the end of myself and have asked others to bombard heaven with me, and I say, “Yes and amen,” to their prayers.

There are days when I don’t know what to pray, and as I’m in the Word, I pray the words of God back to Him.

There are times when I have to speak to my soul and say, “Put your trust in God.” I remind myself who God is. He is loving and kind. Far more so than I am. If I have any compassion, it is only because it first came from Him. One time while praying for some of our precious friends in India, I felt desperate for them. The Lord gently, yet firmly reminded me that I surely was not more compassionate than He. I only pray because He spurs me to do so.

God is powerful and in control. When my husband, Don, had cancer, the saints around us began to pray. One night at a prayer meeting, as I began to pray, the Lord challenged me to reflect on who He is before I began. He showed me that He is not a weak, old man ringing his hands together, wishing He could help, but being powerless to do so.

No, God is able, well able, to accomplish everything He desires. I was afraid and overwhelmed, but He certainly was not.

It’s in the times when I look at Jesus and praise Him that words begin to come. He is good. He is faithful. I can trust Him. Faith is starting to fill my heart again. I can’t do it, but He can. He’s a loving Father. He listens to me. He cares. He is moved in compassion. Yes, moved. He is moving. I can’t see it, but He is moving. Even now, as I type this, tears fill my eyes. I do believe Him for the 5,851st time! I have prayers today that are found in Him and He will give me prayers for tomorrow until the day when He takes that bowl of prayers and pours them from heaven to earth and says, “It is done!”


Do you feel like your prayer life is lacking or are you unsure of how to keep praying? Use this list as a starting point in your own time with God to find faith for that next prayer.

  • Be honest before God.
  • Let the Spirit infuse and take over your prayers.
  • Turn on a worship song that reflects your heart and sing it as a prayer.
  • Invite people from your community to join you in something you are praying and waiting for.
  • Focus first on the character of God when you pray, and let the supplication follow.
  • Pray the very words of God from the Bible. We know they are true.

By Julie Steadman

Julie teaches in our Church-Planting School and partners with her husband Don in his role as Global Director of Antioch Ministries International.