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What to pray when you feel yourself shutting down

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It's happening--the emotional shut-down is coming!

Have you ever felt this way? I have.

Here are a couple suggestions and a prayer:


Pace yourself to prevent feeling overwhelmed; plan down-time, with non-productive or creative activities.Pray and read your Bible. You need God's presence to re-orient you within a world that never stops pressuring you.Talk to a professional or wise friend or mentor. Venting only feels good temporarily and then reinforces your negative outlook. Hearing the truth and believing it will set you free.Hang out with affirming close friends & family. Your tendency when life is tough will be to isolate yourself; that's when the negativity grows. And now a prayer for renewal:
Dear Lord Jesus,
You understand what it means to be tired, overwhelmed, depressed, and frustrated. That's how I feel.
Please guard my heart and mind, Holy Spirit,  from believing the lies that I'm not enough, that I can't do this, that I should give up, hide, shut down, lash …

Prayer of Focus: Turn Your Eyes On Jesus

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Lord Jesus,
Clear away all the darkness from my mind,
all the petty jealousies and regrets,
the self-doubt and self-loathing
(aka. the pride),
the insecurity and fear,
the ambition and greed,
the self-absorption and self-promotion.

Holy Spirit,
Help me focus on Jesus only.
His love.
His sacrifice.
His calling.
Only He matters.

Amen.

Read these beautiful words from the old hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" by Helen Howarth Lemmel and/or listen to Lauren Daigle sing the song on her album Look Up Child. (2018)

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
and the things of this earth will grow strangely dime
in the light of His glory and grace."


A Prayer following Rachel Held Evans' death

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The death of a good person generally doesn't make sense. It's never the right time. Someone is always too young. No answer to your "why?" is ever sufficient, if it gets answered at all.

Grief is always unbearably hard.

Rachel Held Evan's death doesn't make sense. It wasn't a good time. She was too young. She was accomplishing so much.

When something tragic happens, all I know to do is pray (which is sometimes simply a rhetorical "why????" and that's okay.)

If you're grieving, give prayer a try.



Dear Lord,

Comfort Rachel Held Evans' family, friends, and readers at her sudden death.
Comfort those of us who grieve whenever we feel another's loss fresh with pain.
You can't make us understand,
so just help us to trust you with our loss and our grief.
Use this and every sorrow to bind us closer to you
and find solace and faith in trusting your love for us
and your continued plan to prosper us as your children.
Help us to only depend …

A prayer of spiritual warfare over children's health

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Dear Father-God,

You know what it is to love a son,
give a son,
and lose a son,
so you know what parents go through
when they're worried about losing their kids
spiritually,
emotionally, or
physically.

There are so many ways,
so many paths toward harm,
so many intersections of peril
where the world and the enemy in it
try to snatch up our children,
where the devil speaks lies about our love for them.

I pray your power, love, and dominion
over my children's lives.
You have them,
and you have a plan for them,
even if they don't follow you or your plans.
You will make beauty from the ashes in their lives.

But, oh, I hate the ashes.

Help me trust you with my children.
Help me trust you with my friends' children.
Help me to lament and request in faith,
knowing you love them even more than we do.

On behalf of hurting children,
I pray for patience in affliction,
healing from sickness,
relief from pain,
comfort in sadness,
hope in hopelessness.

In Jesus' name, I pray again…

How to pray a Bible verse when you're grieving

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When grief rolls over you like an ocean, you often don't know what to do except cry and pray.

The problem is usually that you don't know what to pray. You have no words, but your heart longs to cry out.

In times like these, I pray Bible verses. I figure if God inspired them, then they speak the truth He wants to hear. And since the Bible is full of people who prayed prayers of grief, I have plenty to pick from.

Today I found this little gem in Isaiah 25:8-9. Look it up to see the actual words (part of a poem).

Below is Isaiah 25:8-9, made into a prayer of grief:

Oh, Lord,

I believe you came to swallow up death forever.
Could you come and wipe away my tears today?
Remove my disgrace, my shame, my heartache from
being remembered in my life and in this world.

Let people remember me for your influence on my life.
Transform my grief into purpose and blessing.
You have declared this to be your passion.

Someday, people will say,
"Look at what God did through her.
She trusted in …

A Good Friday prayer of praise and thanks

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Dear Jesus Christ,

Thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice--
for accepting the call as Savior of the world.

You took on human likeness, when you were God himself,
and subjected yourself to human pain and suffering.
You loved us so much that you took our sins on yourself
and felt them--held-them--
and died in them, after a day and a night of torture, abuse, and abandonment.

It was all wrong--all unjust--
and yet you agreed to it because you loved us.

You did that for me.

Thank you.
I can only feel overwhelmed by your love
and convicted by your grace.
I am so unworthy you.

And you so patiently wait for me,
call me,
and protect me,
even when I don't answer and don't want you.

Oh, Lord Jesus!
I love you more every day,
but I will never understand the depth of your love for me.

I worship you.
Amen.

Second-most popular prayer

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What kind of prayer do you pray most often?

Requests, probably. Me, too.

Requestsare my website's most-clicked on kind of prayer. It seems we're all looking for the right way to ask God to help us.

Guess what the second-most popular prayer is?

Lamentation.The lament.

I love that. I have an audience of grievers and groaners. Praise God.

Learning to lament has been one of the most impactful aspects of my spiritual growth. Instead of crying in sorrow, lamenting teaches you to cry out to God (that's the literal meaning of lament). Lamentation is faith in action, maybe even more than when I make a request.

When I lament, I dump my heavy burdens, my grief, and my hopelessness at God's feet and say something like,

"I don't know what you're doing in my life right now, but help me trust you. I choose to believe you will work all things together for my good. But oh, God, this hurts so much. Cover me with your Spirit!"

When I make a request, I am hoping and believi…

Prayer for a sick child

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Dear Father-Healer,

Pour out your mercy, grace, comfort, and
miraculous healing over this child
who is sick.
Death and harm are horrible thoughts and horrible possibilities.
Except for you.
Except for your power and your perfect will.

Help me to believe in your goodness and love.

Why must bad things happen to good people?
Why is the world so full of heartache and grief?
Why do you seem to withdraw when grief overwhelms us like an angry ocean?
And most of all--why must terrible things happen to the most innocent of all--
to the unborn, the children, the young, the sweet and kind ones among us?

Illness is heart-wrenching for families of children who suffer--
it's unfair,
tramatizing,
terrifying,
heart-breaking.

You can heal anyone and anything,
so why don't you always do it?
Could you do it here?
Could you please heal this child?
Would you please perform a miracle?

More importantly--
Show us your glory.
Change us and help us feel you close
instead of feeling the pain of your abs…

Meeting God in the quiet place

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Ahh!

Here you are, God.
Waiting for me in this quiet place.

You've been calling to me all week,
whenever I made time to watch the sunset or smelled the freshly-cut grass.
When I took pictures of the cherry blossoms
and admired the beauty of a lake shimmering blue and crystal under a bright sun,
that's where you were.

You were waiting in my moments of wakefulness and sleepiness,
waiting as my first and last thoughts of every day.
There your Spirit whispered prayers for me to the God of heaven.
When I felt fatigue,
you assured me that you would sustain me.
When I felt fear,
you whispered that you would protect me.
When I felt worry,
you promised you would make all things work together for good.

All with your quiet, reassuring presence.

You were waiting here,
on a day I've singled out to meet you.
Out here in the sun and the vastness of a quiet setting
where I've made time to sit with you
and hear what you have to say.

And this is what you said.

Hello, dear one.
I've be…

Praise about new things

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Dear Lord,

Thank you for the beauty of the four seasons
and for the privilege of living in a place that experiences all of them.
Today is the first day of spring.

Of course, it's raining.
But that's okay.
Rain is the evidence that you are working in the world,
that you are changing, growing, and creating
new things,
even the predictable flowers like daffodils and crocuses
and the less-predictable flowers like tulips
(why don't mine come up more than once?).

You bring deer into my yard to rest.
You paint breath-taking sunsets across the horizon in the evening.
The cherry and pear trees are bursting with white and pink, cheerful and radiant.
The world smells of earth and grass and mulch.
Clean, fresh, and vibrant.

Why do you take the trouble with colorful details?

Because you long to reveal yourself to us.
Your blessings are new every morning.
You love to remind us that you are constant and yet inventive.
Your creation is not thwarted by our neglect or destruction of the bea…

"The Prayer" sung by Celine Dion and Josh Groban

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Get out your tissues. I'm sharing one of the all-time greatest duets, which happens also to be a prayer.

It's a prayer about losing your way,
finding grace in God's love,
and leaning on Him when you don't know what to do.

So it applies to pretty much to any situation. Here you go--

"The Prayer" sung by Celine Dion and Josh Groban
I pray You'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don't know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

La luce che to dai
I pray we'll find your light
Nel cuore restero
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarchi che
When stars go out each night
L'eterna stella sei
Oh, ho

Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c'e
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Sognamo un mondo senza piu violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al…

A parent's prayer (for God to work in my kids)

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Give me opportunities to have meaningful conversations with my children.

Help me to pray first, then listen, then encourage and support
before I correct or teach.
Help me love them how you love them,
how you love me.

You are always supporting,
always encouraging,
always careful,
always present.

You are an amazing Father.

I want to support what you are already doing in their hearts and in their lives.
Convict them of their sin.
Encourage them in their spiritual growth.
Answer their prayers.
Bless their lives.

I don't want to interfere with the Holy Spirit by trying to be another Holy Spirit.
That's not my job. It's yours.
My job is to point them to you,
no matter what age they are.

Live in me.
I surrender to your will in my life.

Live through me.
I defer to your plans for my children.

Live in my kids.
I trust that you will lead them as they follow you,
and when they don't follow you,
I trust that you will lovingly call them back.

That's the kin…

Show me where I'm holding back your story

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Dear Lord,

You are writing a story with my life.
I know that, but I often forget that my story is actually a tool to tell your story.

You're writing your story on my life
so people who don't know you will
see what love looks like through me.

I'm blowing this.
How much am I confusing the telling of your story?
Are the pages of my life so focused on me
and what will happen to me
and what has happened to me
that your message is blurred?

Lord, show me where I'm interrupting the story you want to write on me.

I know you've called me.
I've hard the sermons and read the Bible verses about calling and surrender.
It's just that sometimes,
I don't know what you're calling me to.
I see what I can do and what I want to do,
but I don't understand what's taking you so long to use me for something significant.

This is idolatry, and I confess it to you.
This is greed, fear, and selfishness.
This is me thinking that your gifts are for my success
instead of y…

A prayer for the youth group

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Oh, Lord,

Our teenagers are at retreat this weekend.
They are playing and laughing and joking around.
They are listening to leaders,
singing praise,
and saying prayers--
perhaps for the first time in a long time.

God, send your Spirit to hover over their waters,
to create new life and new perspectives,
to inspire and renew and affirm.

I ask that you encourage those who are sad.
Empower those who are afraid.
Comfort those who are grieving.
Befriend those who are lonely.
Strengthen those who feel defeated.

Move them.
Draw them.
Convict them.
Inspire them.
Protect them.

These are future leaders and change-makers.
Holy Spirit, move them to confess their sins,
ask forgiveness of others,
release bitterness,
accept one another,
believe truth,
engage in worship,
serve one another.

Make them a generation of love and mission.

Mark this weekend as a pivotal time in their spiritual growth.
Set them on a new path toward the destiny and purpose you have for them.

In Jesus' holy name,
Amen.


Psalm…

A Prayer for my work

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I read one of my favorite passages in Nehemiah today.

Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to provide safety for its inhabitants and respect for God. It's so dangerous that the people alternate building and standing watch. They lay bricks and carry swords. They're not messing around.

Nehemiah prays while he works, and he doesn't allow anyone from the outside to distract him. His prayer life gives him the discernment to realize that Sanballat and Tobiah are pretending to be interested in his great task, when in fact, they are trying to stop the work, at any cost, because a strong Jerusalem threatens their control of the area. They feign friendship; they use intimidation, compliments, lies, and threats in an effort to cause Nehemiah to stop his work.

But Nehemiah's all prayed up. He sees right through them.

Nehemiah's example reminds us to work and pray over the task that God has assigned us. This task will be too hard for us. It will require us to gather a …

A Prayer for a souls

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Oh, Lord of the harvest,

The world needs your love.
They need to know you personally.
They need to be saved from their sins.

So I'm praying for you to
send workers into the world
who will tell people about your great love
and Jesus' death to save everyone.

I am praying that you will also send me,
and that I'll actually go,
to my neighbor, to other countries,
anywhere.

I want to give you my time,
my talents,
my money,
my family,
myself,
no matter how uncomfortable that makes me.

Harvest my soul.
Bring a harvest though me.
Change the world.

Amen.


Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37-38)

Confession, Lamentation, and Intercession over the value of human life

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Dear Father Creator,

How grieved you must be over the callous attitude your creation has toward life!
I know you're not surprised because this has been reality since the beginning of time--
since Cain murdered his brother.

And parents have murdered children,
children have murdered parents,
people have waged war
and claimed to do it in your name and for your honor.

How we misrepresent you and your love for the whole world!
For each individual person,
no matter how helpless,
how disfigured,
how evil,
and how innocent.

They belong to you.
We are only custodians of your creation.
Of turtles, whales, eagles, leopards, water, earth, energy--
but especially of human life.

How can culture get this so mixed up?

I pray for your grace, patience, and conviction.
I ask for your forgiveness on behalf of those who kill innocent lives
and discount the lives of the elderly and handicapped.
I pray for your Spirit to permeate our world
and bring reason and value to every human life.
Especially our c…

A prayer about a crappy day (and a crappy attitude)

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Lord,

Help me.
I'm going through a crappy time,
and I don't want to hear anyone saying
trite little comments to me about how thankful I should be or how things will get better.
I know that.
I just don't feel that.
I've decided I'm having a pity-party.
This feels right, at the moment.
But of course, then I feel worse.
It's all selfishness.
I know that.

God, I don't know how you're going to change my heart.
This is a big ask, and a bigger commitment to repent on my part.
I need you.
I need my faith in you to grow.
I really do need someone to knock some sense into me.
Except they really should do it from a distance
because I'm likely to take a swing back.

Hmm.
Maybe I just need to find a punching bag.

Punch me.
I'll go open the Bible.
I'm sure something there will reach out and knock me upside the head.
So in advance of that happening,
thank you.

I do love you.
Please bear with me a little longer.
Amen.

1 Timothy 6:11-12--"But you, man of G…

Praying Freedom for victims of human trafficking

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Dear Lord, God of Justice,

I pray for the 40 million slaves in the world today.
This must grieve your heart.
These poor people, living in fear,
believing themselves worthless and hopeless,
not knowing You died to give them freedom.

They don't realize that you considered them so valuable,
that you sent your Son--the One and Only--
to die a horrific death, just for them.
Jesus experienced beatings, betrayal, abuse, and disrespect
so that He would understand that slaves everywhere experience.

I ask for Your Spirit to fall on them and speak truth into their hearts and minds.
I pray for them to cry out to you.
I confess their sins and speak longing for You on their behalf.
Give them hope that life can be different
and the courage to make an escape if they can.
Bring someone across their path to free them.

I pray for their owners to be seized and prosecuted.
I pray for justice for these evil-doers.
God, reign down your fire on their abusers, their masters,
their violators.
And especiall…

Prayer to fill the grieving space

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This morning I had one of those mothering moments when you ask your child to trust your "no" because you are building character into him so he can become the man God wants him to be.

Then I say that someday, he'll realize how much it mattered to have a mom who cared about these things.

Then I think about my mom and how I never realized the extent of her wisdom and love until I became a mother.

And how much I wish I could tell her that again right now. How I wish I could tell her anything at all, and how completely devastating it is to know I won't speak to her again in my lifetime. The realization returns, almost like the first time it hit me.

And I have cried off and on all day ever since. Grief sucks like that.

How can there still be so many unseen empty spaces that hold grief?

God,

Would you just fill them, please?
Would you just pour yourself into the holes of longing and loss
and smother the grief with joy and contentment.

Will you hear this lament, 
and will you come…

Prayer against the enemy of discouragement

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Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ,

I ask for you to join me in war against the enemy of discouragement.
I pray against a lack of confidence and hope for my loved one.
I pray in Jesus' name that your forces will defeat all that come against
life and love and holiness.

Bring him a miraculous intervention--
a resolution, a celebration, a season of hope and renewal--
because the forces that come with you are stronger than
the forces that come against him.

The war is already won.
But it'd be nice if you could just knock this battle out for him.
I know you want to grow him by bringing him through a valley.
He knows that.
We know that.
But life is still so hard,
and people can be so cruel.
They say things that discourage, deflate, and destroy
confidence, hope, and vision.

You understand.
Sometimes, you just can't take it anymore.

Give my loved one thick skin,
a tender touch,
and a gracious heart.
May he reach out when others push.
May he stand firm when others strike…

A prayer of blessing over the legislature

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Sometimes, we have an opportunity to present God as the author and finisher of all things to a varied group of religious, non-religious, Christian, and atheist audience.

This is always a beautiful opportunity to show love and grace. We may not be alike in theology, but we are all equally pursued by God with relentless love. We all bear His image and are designed to reflect His glory.

I think our prayers and our conversations should celebrate that calling and that likeness. Through our compassion, people come to know who God really is. Judging them actually never works.

Perhaps someday, when these lost souls are in crisis, they will remember the Christians who spoke with love and blessing--perhaps they will ask questions about who we serve and how our God cares for us. That is our hope and our calling.

Here's my husband's prayer which he spoke over the Virginia State Assembly today:

Almighty God and Creator, We come before you today to praise your name and to ask your blessing on …