Why Can't I Pray?

“The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes and say, “O God, forgive me”, or “Help me”—Billy Graham

Why Can't I Pray?

As a Christian, prayer is something that should be a major part of my life, it should be part of my everyday experience, whether it’s a good day or a bad one.

I have a personal relationship with God and therefore should be talking to Him constantly as I do with all the other people in my life that I have a close relationship with.


I have struggled with prayer on and off throughout my life; I don’t always find it an easy thing to do.

It is hard to admit that to anyone and it’s very rarely discussed among Christians.

I always think the person I am talking to is much holier than me and is praying a lot more and having a closer walk with God than me. This is obviously not always the case.

After each struggle I have managed to get back on track and the rollercoaster continues to this day.

As For me - Nothing

Why, then, when I should have been in God’s presence and praying without ceasing, as we are instructed to do, could I not get a word out?

I have led a very blessed life and have not suffered a lot of heartbreak in my 45 years.

My dear dad passed away at the beginning of the year. The first person in my immediate family to die.

He was in hospital, having fallen and broken his hip, and I knew that it was not a good prognosis.

I was getting so many messages from friends and family telling me they were praying. Some said they had woken during the night and just prayed for my dad. The messages kept coming, the prayers kept coming.

As for me… nothing. I couldn’t pray. It was like I was dumbstruck and every time I tried to stutter a few words none came. I just couldn’t pray.

I knew I wasn’t praying; I knew I should have been praying.

What Was Wrong With Me?

My dad was a godly man, he was a praying man and I knew that since the day I was born he had prayed for me every day of my life.

Here I was, when he needed my prayers more than ever, and I had none to give.

  • What was wrong with me?
  • Was I scared of the answer that God might give me?
  • Did I want to know God’s will?

I didn’t even know what to pray for. My dad had dementia and I felt I had lost him a few years before and knew if he survived that his life would only be an existence, but I couldn’t possibly pray that to God, could I?

I couldn’t pray for him to be taken from us and into heaven without feeling guilty. So, I just didn’t pray and carried that guilt instead.

Easy To Pray For Others

I put the guilt to the back of my mind and then the Coronavirus pandemic hit us all hard.

I found myself praying more than I’d ever prayed before.

It kickstarted my prayer life again and I devised a list of those needing to be prayed for: those who were sick and their families, those who needed salvation and frontline workers.

It seemed like I was praying for everyone and it was so easy to pray for these people, some of whom I don’t even know.

The guilt kept raising its head about why I didn’t pray for my dad in those last days when, surely, he mattered more to me than strangers.

I was messaging a friend who is in a similar circumstance with a relative who is unwell and, somehow, we got round to prayer.

She sent a message that just smacked me between the eyes!

I was not alone in my prayer problem!

She shared my very same feelings and thoughts.

Oh, how wonderful to know I wasn’t alone.

Others Are Praying

Sometimes it’s hardest to pray for the ones we love the most.

God understands and He knows our desires and our fears. He listens and answers even when we can’t put them into words.

He lays our burdens on others so that when we struggle to pray then they are praying for us.

How often does someone pop into our head and we maybe just say a quick prayer for them and unbeknown to us they are struggling. That prayer could be the prayer that helps them through whatever trial they are facing.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

What About Me?

We know there are others praying for us and that is helpful. However, this does not replace our personal prayer life and we should not rely on others but instead do as these verses instruct and bring everything to God, even our inability to know what we should be asking for.

We shouldn’t be afraid to be honest in His presence as He knows what we are thinking anyway.

But if, like me, you still struggle sometimes to know how to pray, why not just offer a short prayer of thanksgiving for God’s Son?

A few words of thanks for all He has done for you, for all He has blessed you with, and this could help you on your road back to a daily walk with God and a fuller and richer prayer life.

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you”—Jeremiah 29:12 (ESV).