What do we do when we can’t do anything?

After a dozen years in ministry, I feel like I should be better at prayer than I am. I should be able to keep a prayer journal, with dates and answers from the Lord neatly lined up in a notebook overflowing with all of the creative ways He has answered my daily 20 minutes that I spend in the morning before the rest of my family awakens.

But that’s just not my reality- often my most concentrated prayers are when I’m up to my elbows in kitchen suds scrubbing a dish, or lying in the middle of my living room floor with my toddler and tears streaming down my face because of a text I just received. My prayers are often flung towards heaven and I hope that God catches them as they fly fast and furious and without any rhyme or reason.

 I get overwhelmed with the needs of my friends, family, and the congregation that I serve. Pastors’ wives often have knowledge of prayer requests they can’t share with others. We know the hurts and struggles of so many people and that can become too much for us to handle because there’s only so much we can do about it.

Amber Beery’s post a few weeks ago has had me thinking about prayer a lot. We so often use the phrase flippantly, “I’ll pray for you.” But sometimes I’m just weighed down with the sheer amount of burdens I’m carrying for those around me. It can feel smothering to take on and listen to all the heaviness of this world.

What do we “do” when there’s nothing we can do?

We pray.

What happens when we really pound the pavement in a prayer walk, lay ourselves at the throne of grace with our petitions, or open ourselves up to asking if we can pray out loud with someone who might not be comfortable with it?

We give the opportunity to come alongside someone even if we aren’t physically near them.

Prayer transcends time and place. It doesn’t require a physical touch or handing over a sacrifice. We can access the Holy Spirit’s power and He intercedes for us when we don’t even know what to pray for (Romans 8:26-27).

We support those who need supporting.

Praying for others lifts up the church and other believers in their times of need (Ephesians 6:18).

We change our anxiety and worry (inaction) into action that can and will change lives.

We cannot make God do anything; we are not in charge of Him or even other people. But we can bring our cares and worries to Him and He listens to us and cares for us (Philippians 4:6).

I end up loosely praying James 4:7-10:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

And if nothing else seems quite right, I pray the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9-13, remembering what verse 8 says, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

This is my prayer for you today: Lord, give us humble and contrite hearts. Draw us closer to You and help us to know You better as we pray for those around us. Show us Your glory. Help us to serve and love those around us and to come to You with their needs first instead of trying to just fix everything right away. We are grateful, Lord, for Your love and that You know our needs even before we do. Amen.

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About Cara Kipp

Cara and her husband, Adam, have ministered in a small-town church for more than a dozen years. The town is small, but sadly not small enough that she can raise chickens. However, she is raising three plucky kids and a six-toed cat. Since being saved as a teenager, she’s been involved with the local church, using her passion for women and intergenerational ministry in church planting and church strengthening. She has a passion for Jesus, working out, knitting, and coffee.

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