4 Ways to Make Prayer a Priority When You’re Too Tired to Think

A few years ago I did a survey of moms where I asked them one simple question; “If you believe you should be praying, but you’re not, why?” Some of the replies stayed on the surface, while others went beneath it to deep matters of the heart. But I think it’s safe to say that probably half of the moms—maybe more—said their greatest obstacle to prayer was having young children. Most of the emails sounded like this:

“I have little children, Brooke. I can’t even think, much less pray! Do you know how long it’s been since I even went to the bathroom alone? I don’t have the mental space or capacity right now to figure out how to add prayer to my day. Maybe when they’re older…”

I get it. Truly. God blessed me with two boys born just 23 months apart. When they were little I often referred to them as, “those boys.” You know, the ones who are loud, aggressive, impulsive, and generally non-compliant? I had two of those. Really close together. And my husband worked shift work, leaving me alone as a functionally single mom much of the time.

Starting to see a picture develop?

Young motherhood kicked my feet out from under me. It was sweaty work, highly physical, and there weren’t a lot of moments that I could afford to look away, or yes, even close the door to the bathroom.

But I’ve learned over time that it doesn’t get easier to make space for prayer.

It’s been my experience—especially as a mom now of teenagers—that it never gets easier to create space for this vital piece of our walk with God. The challenges and issues might look different across the ages and stages, but there will always be obstacles to creating time to do the most important thing. That said, it can be done.

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Four Ways to Make Prayer a Priority When You’re Too Tired to Think

  1. Admit How Much You Need Jesus

I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to have a vibrant prayer life until we admit how much we need Jesus. I’m not talking about needing Jesus for salvation. I’m talking about needing Him on the daily. Needing Him in the moments. If you know you need Him like that, you’ll be more inclined to take the time to pray, knowing your partnership with Him is as vital as any other survival task on your list. Take a moment right now to get honest about how much you act like you need Him in daily life. Do you spend most of your time living as if you’re doing it all alone? Your answer might surprise you.

  1. Change Your Expectations

When my kids were little I used out-of-the box ideas to keep my mind saturated in God’s Word, and find time to pray. For example, on the drive to and from work I often listened to scripture in my car, and when I took a break to pump milk for them I read the same passages. Rather than try to come up with prayers on my own, or try to figure out how to pray when I got home to the all the little ones, I just let what God was teaching me in His Word during those times inspire my prayers. I literally prayed God’s Word back to Him for myself and my kids right there in the office while I was “hooked up,” and it became one of the most meaningful times of my day.

  1. Run To, Not From.

I often felt like the chaos of having young children kept me from doing more holy things. After all, there were mouths to feed, lunches to make, toys to clean up, laundry to wash and fold, tantrums to correct, and arguments to break up. The list of things that can keep us from spending time with the Lord in prayer when our kids are little is endless. But somewhere along the way, I realized that the very things threatening to keep me from prayer could instead be reminders of how much I needed to pray. I used the craziness to move my heart toward God, inviting Him into the moments of my day. It just takes a perspective shift and a little practice, but you can do it too.

  1. Use Pre-Written Prayers.

There’s a reason that much of the history of the Church is built upon the back of liturgy and tradition. I think, at least in part, it’s because we’re all humans who need help remembering to talk to God and even knowing what to say. If you struggle to pay attention during prayer time, or if you don’t really know where to start, using pre-written prayers—prayers that someone else created, like those of King David in the Psalms—is perfectly fine. There’s no shame in relying on the strengths of others when your strength has run out, and it really is sincere if you read something that came first from someone else’s heart. If you need some pre-written prayers, there’s an entire section in the back of my book, Praying Mom called Prayers for Today’s Christian Mom. I think you’ll love them!

Prayer isn’t one more thing to do. It’s actually something the heart of a mom—a woman—can’t do without. It’s the way God designed for us to talk to Him, partnering with Him for the hearts of our children. Don’t miss it.

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