Your account

Praying Women - How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say

Praying Women - How to Pray When You Don't Know What to Say
Like many of us, Sheila Walsh found prayer a challenging element of her faith, especially in the darker seasons of her life. ‘Because prayer is so central to faith,’ she says, ‘we think we’re supposed to know what we’re doing, and because of that, we’re often afraid to ask questions. But we all have them.’
Praying Women is a practical and personal look at prayer in the midst of storms, celebrations, and life’s everyday challenges. Anne Rogers asked Sheila some questions about her journey as a praying woman.
What made you decide to write this book, and make it so personal? Your last book It’s Okay Not to Be Okay was also a very personal book. Why do you feel that you are now being called to write books which reveal so much of yourself?
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica he said this: ‘Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well,’  1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV).
I have used that as a template for ministry for some time, I share the good news of the gospel and my own life as well. I think it’s easy to assume that because someone is on a platform or writes books that they are somehow struggle-free, but that’s not my story. I want women to know that when hard things hit, Christ is near. It’s tempting to question our faith when we don’t get the answer we’ve been praying for but Christ never promised us an easy life, He promised us His presence in the best days and in the hardest.
You researched this book for over two years. In that time, what was the one element which impacted you the most, and has that changed how you pray now?
One of the things that continues to impact my life is understanding that the Church through the ages has used God’s Word as a prayer book. The Psalms in particular give words to our deepest pain and our greatest joys. No matter what you are walking through right now you will find yourself in the Psalms. David and the other authors didn’t hold back from God. If they were angry, they brought that to Him. If they were afraid, they brought their fear, happy, they brought their joy. I have learned to process my pain in the presence of God. 
You talk in the book about talking to God in a natural and relational way, and about how prayer has changed you. Do you think that process has accelerated through writing this book, and how do you think spending so much more time focusing on prayer has changed you?
Two years of research and study has had a profound impact on my life and on my prayer life in particular. I was raised in a small Baptist church on the west coast of Scotland where I was taught to have a “quiet time”, a time each day to pray and read my Bible. Prayer was on my to-do list, like brushing my teeth or doing my homework. Prayer is no longer something on a to-do list, it’s now on my “who I am” list. It’s not something to get done but rather an ongoing conversation with my heavenly Father.
I was interested in the chapter on praying through the Psalms. How do you tie in using Scripture to guide your prayers, and praying liturgical prayers which are very familiar, with very conversational prayers? 
 I pray using the Psalms each morning when I’m alone with the Lord. That’s a more concentrated, intentional time but I love talking with the Lord throughout the day. When I’m in the car or in line at the grocery store, I’ll often talk to the Lord about the people I see, asking Him to be close to them, to reveal Himself to them.
You talk about prayer through heartache and when life is tough, but how do you hold on and pray when you’re angry with God and confused about his purposes, when the temptation is to turn and run?
One of the greatest realisations in my journey is that we get to come to God just as we are. We get to bring our anger, our anxiety, our questions. So often we feel as if we have to clean ourselves up to come to God, but I believe that we are invited to bring all of who we are to all of who God is. Before the ministry of Christ on this earth the people were separated from God. The High Priest was the only one allowed into the Holy of Holies where God’s presence and glory rested, and then only once each year on the Day of Atonement. But when Jesus breathed his last on the cross, God delivered a powerful invitation to ordinary men and women like you and me.
‘With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom,’ Mark 15:37-38 (NIV).
The temple curtain wasn’t what we think of when we’re looking for curtains, it was the width of a man’s hand. God ripped it from top to bottom and said to you and me, come on in!
When we feel discouraged or afraid that God isn’t hearing us – or even that he’s not there – how should we approach prayer? How do we avoid it feeling like another chore to fit into a day?
It can be very hard when heaven seems silent, when we feel as if our prayers don’t go higher than the ceiling. The temptation is to stop praying but I want to encourage women to pray then even more. Pour your heart out, yell and scream if you have to but just know that God is near. You are not alone, God is listening. As the psalmist David wrote: 
‘The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,’ Psalm 34:17-18 (NIV).
Do you have a suggestion of a very simple way someone could start to build a closer prayer relationship with Jesus?
Just start where you are. Be honest. Be real. Talk to God. The smallest first step can be the greatest because it moves us forward. If it helps you, write your prayers down. Keep a journal. Then you can look back and see how your prayers have been answered and how you’ve been changed in your prayer journey.
Most of all, talk to God, He is listening!
A Study Guide is also available
Together Magazine

Together is the window to the UK Christian retail and trade. Providing the very best in product information, trade news, publisher and retail store profiles and much more

Add your own comment


You must be logged in to comment.

Products mentioned in or related to this blog post
Praying Women (ITPE)
Walsh, Sheila
Retail price: £9.99
Your price: £6.99

Praying Women Study Guide (Paperback)
Walsh, Sheila
Retail price: £6.99
Your price: £6.99