What to Do When Your Prayer Sounds Messy

Worried.  Yucky. Roller coaster of emotions. This was me at one point last week as my family worked through the first few days of school.  There were so many unknowns and so many things that raced through my mind.   Our school system is very wonky and I will leave it at that.  There is constant change and movement of students. It can be super overwhelming for parents who are trying to do the best thing for their kids.  I feel great about this school year, but I am already beginning to worry about next school year.  (Crazy, huh?  Heaven help me to not give into worry for one minute.)  You see, I would love it if we got into this one school for middle and high school, but it is really hard to get in.  So, here I was on the first week of one school year and already worried about the next school year.  I was beginning to panic and knew I needed to pray.

But, here is the problem.  I knew I was acting ridiculous and did not have the perfect prayer or even a specific noble request worked out in my head.  I felt silly bringing my unnecessary worry to Jesus, when I knew my request was selfish at best.  However, I did not know what else to do.  I was going crazy all stuck in my thought life. I needed to get it all out. Have you ever felt that way?  Has your prayer ever sounded like this prayer I prayed last week?

Dear Jesus,

I’m a mess.  I really want my son to get into this certain school.  I feel like You have let me down in the past and am afraid to ask boldly about this school.  I just really want our kids to go to this certain school.  It would solve all our problems.  I recognize how silly this sound because now I am remembering all the times you have watched over each of my children and the teachers you have given them.  I recognize that You got us into the school we are in now and You have my kids’ backs.  Help me to understand what to do next.  I do pray that we get into that school, but I know You know what my kids need. Amen.”

That was my prayer.  It was random, jumpy, silly, dripping in arrogance, and kind of a whatever prayer.  But, it was my prayer.  I am glad I prayed it because out of the process of praying such a silly prayer came these thoughts that I knew were from God.

  1. I knew that I was wrong in my thought process.  I was feeling like God did not give me what I wanted in my children’s education.  However, as soon as I said it, I knew it was wrong.  God has done such a cool things with my kids’ education.  Sometimes I can fall for the biggest lies.  However, by me saying my true thoughts out loud and admitting that I felt this way, the Holy Spirit was able to give me a good check.  Right away, He sent memories to my mind of ways God had watched over my children.  It is always good for me to build a running record of how God has been consistently present in every moment of my life.
  2. Even though this prayer is not a full-on prayer of relinquishment, it was the first step.  By simply going to God and praying, it was the beginning of me letting go.  It was the beginning of me remembering all the ways God has been faithful.  It was the beginning of me (once again) reminding myself that God is God and I am not.

None of this would have happened if I had told myself that I could not pray yet because I did not have the perfect prayer laid out. We don’t have to have the perfect prayer because we are not perfect.  God does not want perfect.  He wants broken.  Look at Psalm 51: 16-17.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.”

God will not despise you if you do not have the answers.  That is the whole point. God has the answers, and He just wants to start the conversation.   So, go ahead pray the messy prayer with messy motives.  God delights in you and loves to hear you talk.  Speak to Him and then watch Him work with you.

You are not alone.

About Janelle Upton

My name is Janelle and I am so glad you are here. I am a person who God brought out of a dark pit and set in a spacious place to be healed and really live. I love to study, read, and ponder all things that will lead me to understand who God is and what He is doing in my life. May what you read in this space lead you to walk closer to the God that is crazy in love with you.

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