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How to pray for the hard-to-pray-for things.



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I have a prayer journal and I would say I’m pretty average when it comes to using it.

I wish I checked in more. I actually wrote about checking in more in 2020. But what really irks me about the prayer journal, what I don’t like (because I know I need it), is that there are so many sections for so many things I would otherwise not think to pray about…

I would prefer it if my prayers to God could operate like a Christmas list on its way to the North Pole:

Dear God,

I would like _______, _______, and _________ today.

Please + thanks!

I’ll say it again: The prayer journal contains so many sections for other people. And it requires me to reach out and ask people what they need prayer for. And then it requires me to follow-up. It is all these steps that are good for me but they just feel… what’s the right word… hard.

I’m on day 23 of 40 in a prayer challenge I do once every year. I do this challenge anytime I need a boost in my prayer life. It’s like a supplement to an already good workout for me. But it’s always around this time that my prayers start to lose their edge and taper off a bit. I stop praying with fervor. Sometimes I neglect to pray at all.

I was expressing my lackluster prayer life to a girlfriend the other day and she came back with some hard-to-swallow truth, “You have to keep praying when you’re bored. You have to decide to pray until God gives you the answer, not to pray until you’re tired of praying for that thing.”

I know I’m not the only one who prays until the boredom sets in… or until I am pretty positive I won’t get the outcome I want… or until I convince myself there are other things to fill my prayer journal with.

But what if we didn’t stop? What if we prayed our prayers more than once? What if we wore out our prayers the way we wore out a pair of sneakers we love?

What would change?

Who would change?

How would life look differently if our prayers were actually unceasing?

It sounds romantic but it’s just plain hard.

It’s hard to pray for other people.

It’s hard to pray for people you don’t want to pray for.

It’s hard to pray for circumstances that aren’t easy, that won’t resolve in a day, and that require you to be in relationship with someone else when you’d rather book it off to an island and live in solitude for the rest of your days without ever having to think about difficult people.

But friend, I don’t want you to miss the way your faith can build and multiply when you begin to pray for the hard-to-pray-for people and things in your life. Gosh, that’s the glorious game-changer.

There’s a story towards the end of Exodus about Moses, God, and a golden cow.

I wish we could dissect the whole tale today but here’s the sum-up: Moses goes up a mountain to meet with God. He is there for 40 days and 40 nights.

The people he is leading at the foot of this mountain get mad. They think Moses has abandoned them. They decide they are going to pool together all their golden goods, throw them in a fire, and weld an idol for them to worship. They want something tangible to make up for the absence they feel.

The result?

A golden calf. Think the Chick-fil-A mascot covered in gold.

God becomes FURIOUS and decides he is going to wipe these people out. He is done. He is over them.

And here’s the kicker: as God rants to Moses about his anger, Moses asks God to change his mind. Moses tells God it’s not a good plan. And the text says this: And God did think twice. He decided not to do the evil he had threatened against his people.


My brain is blowing up right now. Here it is, proof that what we say to God matters. What we utter. What we cry about. What and who we complain about. This is evidence that God changes his mind and he uses the prayers of his people to change the lives of others.


While you are over there in the corner whining about the family member you cannot stand, God might just be waiting on you to pray about it. He might be waiting to use you to help that coworker that bugs you all the time but you’d rather just vent and gossip instead of taking one minute to pray for them.

That’s tough.

As I filled out the spaces of my prayer journal, I noticed my feelings as I scripted these prayers I didn’t feel like praying. I noticed how I wanted to skip prayers for certain people because, plain and simple, I wanted someone else to pray for them. I wanted to sweep it under the rug.

I want to feel justified in my frustrations rather than be used by God to take part in that person’s life being changed for the better.

There are two people I specifically wrote down. Their names and my frustrations with them. Now I didn’t blame them in the prayers but I did get honest and ask God to change me. You can rarely change another person but you can ask God to change how you see them or interact with them.

Within 36 hours of praying for these two people, they both reached out. And they reached out with a really vulnerable text that I wasn’t expecting. And they both needed me and it was almost like God was touching down and saying, “I couldn’t start to move until you invited me into the situations… I want to clear out some of your frustrations and teach you how to move forward, uninhibited by others… but you have to let me in.”

You might be frustrated today but I am begging you not to dismiss the person or the circumstances that are causing you to feel this way.

Bring that stuff out into the light. God wants to change things and he wants to use you as a catalyst for some of those things.

That’s a big and honorable role and you could step into it at any time.

Gosh, the things we would see if we sought other people over ourselves. Gosh, the things we would witness if we prayed when it was hard and when the outcomes weren’t all for our benefit. Gosh, the people we would become if we brought the hard stuff into the light and let God change the course of our people’s history.

My friend Val Woerner’s prayer journals are on sale for preorder right now and I confidently swear by them. If you’re wanting to access a deeper level of prayer for others and the hard-to-pray-for things then this is a fantastic tool to draw you closer to that goal.


  1. Katrina Julia says:

    I marvel at how God may change our hearts + minds. Years ago when I equated God to my earthy father – I would barely ask for anything or share bc I thought it was a bother. As I transitioned through immersing myself in studies, His word, reading straight through, the habit increased. The closeness, the desire for closeness. Yet, sometimes same – I find myself Holy Spirit please intervene + reawakening with a paper journal. Last year, I started recording my prayers to listen when I walk or those moments where its harder. The shift since Nov again to now is radical. Immersing myself in 21 day prayer + fasting + daily worship. Love all you share. Keep shining bright as a city on a hill.

  2. Brenda says:

    I need to improve my prayer life. It is practically non existent. I look forward to your emails.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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