How do you pray when you’re overwhelmed, especially as a busy mom?
I decided to ask other women how they would answer this question. This is the final post in a series on learning how to pray. Be sure to check out 1. How To Pray When You Just Can’t Focus, 2. Things To Pray for When You’re Distracted, Overwhelmed & Don’t Know What To Say, and 3. Waiting on God: How To Pray When He Seems Slow To Answer, as well as my free prayer journal (click below).
How Do You Pray When You’re Overwhelmed? Real Women Answer
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I’ve you’ve read much of this blog, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that I have struggled (and continue to struggle) to have a powerful prayer life. This has especially been the case when I became a mother.
When you’re fighting exhaustion, juggling schedules, or simply feel you’re on the brink of losing it, turning to God just gets hard. Not only do you struggle to find the time, but there is a battle to maintain energy and focus, so that you can put some thoughts together that actually make sense.
I’ve come to the recent conclusion that while some people might be more naturally able to pray than others, it’s a practice that takes, well, practice. It is something that is learned, and therefore something that can be taught.
That’s why, for the final post of this series, I wanted to reach out beyond my limited brainpower and ask other women what they do. I sent out this question to several people, including some in our Facebook community:
What is one tip you would offer to overwhelmed women (especially moms) to strengthen their prayer lives?
Here’s what they had to say (note that not everyone has the same advice!).
Just do it
My tip is just to PRAY, whenever you have a minute. We don’t all have a long period of time in which to pray, but we all have a drive to the grocery store here, a walk to the park there. I pray while I’m pumping another bottle for my baby! Including your kids in the prayer is great too! It helps them to see how important it is to you.
—Jenn S., blogger at What You Make It
Prayer doesn’t have to be long and in the morning. Pray through the day, pray with kids, pray before bed, pray when you need it. I need to take my own advice!
—Andrea L., working mom of two
I pray first thing in the morning. Anytime, anywhere. In my truck, walking down the street, if God is with us everywhere then we can even pray in the bathroom!
—Carmen C., mom of two
Pray the Scriptures
The one thing I have done that has strengthened my prayer life is to pray the Scriptures. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking you don’t have the right words to say or you are just repeating the same prayer over and over again (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I was recently introduced to the concept of using God’s Word to pray and it has been a game changer for me. I will write a Bible verse on a note card and keep it on the counter all day long and when I read it, I will use it as a prompt to begin praying. This has really helped with controlling those angry mom moments because when I feel like my blood is about to boil over, I will look at the card and start praying that verse. It has not only changed my prayer life but has also changed the atmosphere in our home too.
—Victoria Osborn, blogger at Creative Home Keeper
Create a prayer journal
Our family group recently got together to make prayer journals looking to address this need (three young moms in our group) and others. Mine is made out of a photo album and interchangeable index cards that slide into the clear photo slots. It features sections for dreams, self-examination (scriptures to keep me on track) and ways I see God moving, and then sections for each day of the week. For instance, every Sunday is “praise and thanksgiving day” and Monday is “pray for my work day.” We used scrapbooking paper to make these beautiful and inspiring and then recorded each other’s prayer requests into our books. So far, I am finding that my beautiful prayer book is drawing my heart to pray more intentionally, specifically and more often.
—Robin Weidner, author of Grace Calls
I recently heard the term “breath prayers” and it means to literally say a prayer that only takes one breath and do just do that throughout the day! For example, “thank you for my kids,” “Lord give me strength,” “please comfort that friend,” “forgive me for my anger,” “show me your ways,” “what do you have for me today?” I’ve always prayed this way throughout the day and don’t have a formal sit down for an hour and pray type of routine. I liked that there was a name given to it though! Kinda neat!
—Shannon B., RN and mom of littles
My preacher once said that prayer without ceasing does not mean putting all your concentration on prayer all the time. It is more of a mindset. It means to be continually aware that you ARE in the Lord’s presence. And although he is already in your head, to pray without ceasing is to be aware of his constant refining of your thoughts, heart, and intentions. Not only that, but to welcome him doing it. It means to always have God in the presence of your thoughts. To think about God 24/7 basically. That mindset has changed my prayer life because it doesn’t have to be an event or formal. YES, there are times that should be solely devoted to prayer without distraction, but if you “pray without ceasing” that way I stated above, it takes the pressure off during those silent deep prayer moment and allows for more praise and listening versus what used to be a checklist of things I had saved up throughout the day.
—Melissa K., stay-at-home mom
It’s okay to be brief
I have often taken comfort in Jesus’ saying, “You will not be heard because of your many words” (Matthew 6:7, paraphrased). It can be difficult to find lengthy times to pray when we have babies and young kids at home, but God listens and values even our brief prayers! And we can teach our children to respect our prayer times. My kids know that when my chair is turned to face the window, I am spending time with God and don’t want to be disturbed. Of course, the little ones often can’t help themselves—they tiptoe up behind me, tap on my shoulder, and whisper questions in my ear, but hey, they’re trying! And they are learning to be patient when I tell them I will answer them when I’m done praying. It’s a process, and I know it will get better with time and as they mature, but I’m thankful for every stolen moment with God—and I know He values it too. I love what James 4:8 tells us: “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” How encouraging that our efforts are not lost on God. Whenever we pursue Him, He pursues us back. What a wonderful Father He is, and what a gift we have in prayer!
Also see: On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love
As an overwhelmed mom, it can be really easy to get in the habit of subsisting only on short, little prayers throughout the day instead of sitting down to actually pray when you can set aside time to focus. While praying short prayers can be really helpful when you’re running short on time, it can also lead to a pretty “thin” prayer life.
Take stock of the prayers you are praying. What do they say about your faith and your priorities? Are you praying powerful prayers of great intention, or just “God, will you please make my life more comfortable?”
There’s actually a term called “praying deep” that means not just praying for the small, little stuff that doesn’t really matter so much (like grades and finding things and favorable traffic), but also praying for the BIG stuff—the things that are important, but all too easy to forget. Things like wisdom and faith and focus.
I created this mini prayer book, which has helped me.
—Brittany Ann, blogger at Equipping Godly Women
I think everyone here has some great insight to offer! Overall, I’ve noticed that the way I pray evolves through different seasons, and even from day to day. One day I might only have the space to do a few “breath prayers,” while the next I might have more time to focus on that prayer journal or scripture prompt to pray a little deeper.
If you’d like more help learning to pray through life’s overwhelming seasons, be sure to check out my free prayer journal, which now comes with a free email course.
Now it’s your turn to continue the conversation: What is one tip YOU would offer to overwhelmed women (especially moms) to strengthen their prayer lives?