For this week’s Monday Minute with God, Ginger encourages just to leave behind our prayer insecurities and pray from the heart by reminding us that the right words aren’t magic words.
Pray from the Heart
by Ginger Harrington
“I don’t know the right words to pray. Will you pray for me?”
I watched my friend shrug her shoulders with a sigh, “I’ve never felt very confident in my prayers, but I’m really struggling in my marriage. Ever since my husband came back from deployment we’ve had a hard time.”
As a fellow military spouse, she knew I could relate to the challenges of reintegration, but I was caught off guard by her assumption that I knew the magic words to make prayer work. That reminded me of the many days I have struggled to find the right words to pray. I was concerned that if I didn’t do it quite right, God might not listen or answer my prayers. I worried my humble words would never measure up to the eloquent prayers offered by Chaplains or Spiritual Life Advisors.
I’ve often tried to dissect prayer, analyzing my heart and my words with the concern that God might not listen if my prayers don’t meet some unseen standard of effectiveness. In reality, God invites us to commune and to communicate with Him through prayer.
Over time, God has given me a deeper understanding of the gift of prayer. After encouraging Sarah in her marriage, I responded, “Pray from your heart. There aren’t any magic words. Did you know that the Holy Spirit even helps us to pray?”
I shared this verse with Sarah:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to help us pray.
When we don’t know the right words, He promises to help. When we don’t understand what to pray, the Holy Spirit joins our prayers with a perfect understanding of God’s will. And when our emotions are overwhelming, the Spirit himself prays with us and for us.
In the military community, we often resist asking for help. Slogans such as “Army Strong,” “Aim High,” “Be All You Can Be,” or “Forged By Sea” build a culture of strength that can make it hard to seek God’s help.
The ground is level—we all need help in prayer. In this verse, the word for help is the idea of working together: “to lay hold along with, to obtain with others, help in obtaining, and to take hold of with another.”
Prayer isn’t a pass/fail test of spirituality. It is a relationship with God that goes far beyond words. As Sarah and I talked, I was grateful for the opportunity to help her grow in her understanding of prayer as well as encourage her in relational challenges.
As we continued our conversation, I encouraged her with this passage in Romans. Consider these prayer starters based on Romans 8:26-27.
- “Lord help me to pray with your heart and wisdom.”
- “Lord, pray in and through me. . .”
- “Thank you for interceding for ______, Lord.”
- “Lord show me how to pray for this situation. Put your words in my mind.”
- “Lord, I have no words, only emotions and fears. You know the deep things of my heart. Thank you for praying with me.”
The next verse in this passage in Romans states an incredible promise: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
All things—these are the needs, the hurts, the fears, and the problems we drive us to our knees in prayer. Not every situation is good, but no circumstance is beyond his reach or redemption.
Somehow and some blessed way, God promises to work all the things together for good, even the struggles we face in marriage. What an amazing promise for the family of God.
The Spirit knows the plans, the purposes, and the perfect will of God—the very same God who is at work in all things. Who better to help us pray, to grow our hearts in confidence in the sheltering love of our heavenly Father?
Read: Romans 12:12 and Ephesians 6:18
Reflect: What does it mean to you to pray in the Spirit? How does God want to work through your prayer?
Respond: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray. Rely on his help and let go of the pressure of trying to say the right words. Share your heart with confidence as you embrace the truth that the Spirit of Jesus is praying with you.
Lord, thank you for helping me to pray. I depend on your help to pray from my heart. Help me to grow in prayer as I trust in you. Amen.
Live a Praying Life: Open Your Life to God’s Power and Provision by Jennifer Kennedy Dean (Link:
Holy in the Moment: Simple Ways to Love God and Enjoy Your Life by Ginger Harrington (Prayer chapter)