Seasons of exhaustion meet us many times throughout our lives: during finals in high school and college, during summers working two jobs to save for school, during your engagement as you plan your wedding, during early motherhood with a new baby waking at night. Tiredness is part of living in this fallen world, in fallen bodies affected by sin.
But even when you’re exhausted, it’s possible to continue (or start up!) your prayer life. In fact, it’s vital that we pursue this practice even when we’re tired! Prayer connects us with God’s supernatural strength: strength to face the emotions and circumstances of the day when our own resources are running dry.
To continue in prayer when you’re tired, try the following four tips that have helped me pursue a strong prayer life while expecting a baby, working from home and caring for a toddler—all while facing a difficult trial in our family. It’s not always easy; it often isn’t. But by taking these steps you’ll find a routine that works for you.
1. Write Down Your Requests
I like to use a prayer journal for this. You can write out whole prayers or just requests; it’s up to you. If you have a hard time keeping your eyes open during prayer, writing out your prayers may help you stay awake. Much like journaling, it will also help you work through the day’s worries.
Whenever you write down a request, make sure it is specific. Don’t pray vague prayers—you don’t want vague answers! If you’re praying for a friend, write down what exactly you are asking God to do for her. If you’re praying for a job, write down what field, when you need it by and where you would like to interview.
By each request, write the date. When you record answers, you’ll date those, too—so you can see God’s faithfulness!
2. Change Up Your Format
If you always pray in the same place—a living room chair, perhaps—change where you sit. Pray while you eat breakfast or dinner, or while sitting in bed at night. If you struggle to find time, pair your prayer time with something you always do. If you walk every morning, pray during your walk. If you always read in bed, pray before you start that evening’s book.
You can also change HOW you pray, such as writing out prayers instead of speaking them. You might focus on one aspect of the ACTS model of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (requests). There are many options from which to choose!
3. Follow Jesus’ Model
In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us a model for prayer. The Lord’s Prayer was not given so we could memorize and repeat it, but so that we could model the structure of our prayers after His. Jesus had a thriving prayer life that He diligently prioritized, even at His most exhausted. By looking to Jesus’ model in Matthew 6:9-13, we see how to pray in the way He did.
4. Check Up on Answers
Here’s the fun part. As you write down your requests and diligently persevere in prayer over them, you can check on the progress. Ask your friends how they’re doing. Ask for updates on their prayer requests. Each time you or they get an answer to prayer, write it down and date it! I like to highlight the answers or write them in red so they stand out. This is a great way to be reminded of God’s faithfulness, which will in turn encourage you to pray!
Exhaustion is hard, but it will always be with us. If we wait to pray until we aren’t exhausted, we never will! Instead, pursue prayer in all seasons, trusting that God is present and able to strengthen you in the midst of it.