When You Don’t Know What to Say or Pray

I used to be hesitant to pray and kind of stumbled over my words when talking to God.
Yet, I desperately wanted to say the right things because I thought if I prayed the right way God would listen and answer my prayers, the way I wanted Him to. 

It took me a while, but eventually I got up the courage to talk with a friend about my fears and struggles. She assured me I was normal, and shared how she had dealt with the same hesitancies and misunderstandings about prayer. And she walked with me through Bible, showing me verses about prayer and encouraging me to talk to God in a conversational way.

As I think back on that time, over twenty years ago, there are two powerful lessons I learned:

Prayer isn’t about saying or asking the right thingsit’s about building a relationship with God by talking to Him. 

If you’ve ever struggled with what to say when you pray, take a deep breath and know you are not alone. There is no formula to getting prayer right and God isn’t listening for the perfect combination of words or measuring how well we pray. 

Yet there are still days like today when I want more power in my prayers. Days when I want to feel more confident in what I’m asking for from the One who rules our nations, the Maker of all things, the Shepherd of my heart, and the Creator of the ones I love.

And on those days, when I’m not sure what to say or how to pray, I turn to God’s word remembering “the confidence which we have before Him, (is) that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:17 (NAS)

When we pray God’s Word, we pray God’s will.

When I long for my prayers to be filled with power and my heart to be infused with faith, I look for verses about God’s will and His ways. One is Hebrews 4:12, where God teaches us that His Word is “alive and active.” Some days I pray that truth, asking God to make His Word come alive in a situation and active in the person’s life I’m praying for, or my own.

Often times while I’m praying, verses in the Bible that I’ve memorized will rise up to the surface in my prayers. When it feels like plans are spinning out of control, Jeremiah 29:11-13 will come to mind. On those days, I’ll pray:

Lord, You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a future and a hope. You say that if I come to You and pray, You will listen and will lead me. So, today I surrender my plans for Your plans. Please guide my decisions and thoughts to match Yours so I can experience hope and not harm. Even though things aren’t going so great today, I trust the plans You have for me.

I’m so grateful for the grace-gift of talking to my Heavenly Father without hesitancy. Now that the pressure to say the right things is gone, prayer feels more like a comfortable conversation. Sometimes I just sit still and let God whisper His promises into my thoughts, and then I ask for their fulfillment in my prayers.

What is a favorite verse of yours that you could pray for yourself and someone else today?  

Be sure to DOWNLOAD my FREE Scripture Prayer Printable.  Enter your email below, click “Please send me the prayer printable!” button, and you’ll go straight to my FREE Printable PDF page. ( I promise to never share your email with anyone.)

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.


  1. Cherlyn says:

    The link for the download of prayer is not working. Thank you

    • My blog post was supposed to go out tomorrow morning, not tonight. 🙂 Working on the printable right now – before I go to bed. I will have it ready for you here tomorrow – Thurs, May 4th! Sorry about that. 🙂

  2. Renee, you sure hit the nail on the head for me. Thank you so much!

  3. BTW, I gotta agree with Cherlyn: the link is not working.

  4. Melinda says:

    The download link is not working.

    • So sorry!! My blog post was supposed to go out tomorrow morning, not tonight. I will have it ready for you tomorrow – Thurs, May 4th – and the post with go out again with a link that works.

      Thanks for grace!

  5. Tamara says:

    I was trying to get the download for the scripture prayers also ~ not working! 🙁 Not under resources either.

    • I am so sorry friend!! My blog post was supposed to go out tomorrow morning, not tonight. Im actually working on the printable right now – 9:30pm Weds night. I will have it ready for you tomorrow – Thurs, May 4th – and the post with go out again with a link that works.

      Thanks for grace!

  6. Renee Swope says:

    I am so sorry friends!! My blog post was supposed to go out tomorrow morning, not tonight. Im actually working on the printable right now – 9:30pm Weds night. 🙂

    I will have it ready for you tomorrow – Thurs, May 4th – and the post with go out again with a link that works.

    Thanks for grace!

  7. Martha Troxel says:

    I am sure that I speak for all of us: looking forward to getting those prayers!

  8. I need some, ok a lot, of prayer. I have battled deep depression for a really long time, and I’m losing the battle. Right now I’m drowning, and can’t hardly breathe. I have some significant health issues going on as well as a lot of issues and tension at work. My marriage is falling apart and I am at the end of my rope. I thought I had a group of friends from church that were supportive, but I’m questioning even them right now. They respond to me, but they don’t ever initiate contact or do the inviting. I have felt unloved and unwanted my whole life, my plate is overflowing and beyond fragile. I’m not emotionally or spiritually capable of anything right now. I need prayer, I need hope, I need peace, I need a true friend, and I need Jesus to be more real than He has ever been.

    • I just said a prayer for you. I ask that our heavenly Father to help you with what you need.
      I am going through some of the same problems as you. I understand and I do care.

    • Bonnie says:

      My heart goes out to you Tracy ~ along with my heart are my prayers, earnest prayers that God will be so very real to you at this time, this very day. That he will give you the hope and the peace you need. Jesus is your friend, always, but I am praying that he will introduce you to someone close to you that you can have as a friend now. There are times when life seems hopeless but with Jesus those times can change.

    • Along with Linda and Bonnie, and others, I am praying for you Tracy, right now.

      Depression is heavy and hard. I have been there and it shapes the way we think, the way we perceive and receive love. I’m praying that you have a Dr who is helping you navigate this road of depression. If not, I encourage you to find one. I was just thinking yesterday about my thought processes when I was struggling with depression in 2010, and how much they have changed after getting the help I needed.

      Jesus led me to my regular doctor who then helped me see that stress-induced anxiety had led me into an anxiety-induced depression. And I had to be put on medication to help my brain chemistry bet back into balance. I resisted it; I didn’t want to take medicine. I wanted to have enough faith to be okay, but I knew I wouldn’t do it on my own. I had tried, I had prayed, meditated on and memorized scriptures, asked others to pray for me, claimed God’s promises for months and nothing was helping me long term.

      I can look back now and see it was because my brain chemistry was out of balance from all of the stress going on in and around me, my family, and loved ones. The medicine was God’s answer to my prayers, and it made the biggest difference in my life. Once I was chemically balanced again, I could soak in God’s love and God’s truths.I had the ability to start replacing my doubts, fears and anxiety with HIS promise and power.

      Anyway, didn’t mean to write so much, but this part of my journey has been on my heart to share lately, and i wonder if it’s because God knew you’d be here asking for prayer. Im praying for you to feel God’s love, and trust the love of your church and your friends. And for you to be surrounded by others who will help you know what you need – heart, mind, body and spirit. xoxo

  9. Thanks so much Renee for all that you are doing. God bless you.

  10. It is not working for me either. I have tried twice.

    • When you enter your email in the box, and click the button below that says: Please send me the prayer printable!” button, your computer should take you straight to my FREE Printable PDF page. If you are doing it on a phone, that may be the issue. Let me know.

  11. Linda Major says:

    The link does not work!

  12. charity says:

    Im glad to be part of this,may God bless all the women in their efforts to make the world a better place to live.thanks@Renee


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