Have you ever been at a loss about how to pray?
I have…particularly when I’m also feeling exhausted and weak. I need prayers for strength more than ever, but when I try to talk to God, I just draw blanks.
I’ve had to tell myself that it’s normal to feel a bit wordless when you’re worn out. When you’re going through a hard time, and most of your emotional energy is spent on just getting through to the end of the day, it’s hard to focus on much of anything.
We need help even with praying when we feel weak. And God knows this about us. That’s why we have an incredible prayer resource called the Psalms.
Why Use the Psalms to Pray for Strength
When I first started reading the Bible in my late teens, the Psalms were honestly a bit of a drag. A boring book of poetry that didn’t even rhyme. Yawn. Not my thing.
Over time, however, I’ve come to appreciate what this collection of songs and poems is for. The Psalms can and should be used as prayers.
Related: How to Have Joy in Any Circumstance
Consider how often the Psalms are quoted in prayer by the writers of the New Testament. There are over 100 direct references to the Psalms, and many of them are written as prayers. This shows that the believers in the early church, who were devoted to prayer, knew the Psalms inside and out, and often had them committed to memory.
So when you don’t know what to say in prayer…follow the example of Jesus’ first disciples. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are some beautiful prayers for strength and everything else you need already written, and you can use them.
I’ve compiled parts of my favorites Psalms into five themes that are incredibly powerful to pray, especially when you’re going through trauma, are feeling weak in your faith or in life in general. Say them aloud, write them, memorize them or even try singing them—there’s no wrong way to go.
5 Ways to Pray for Strength from the Psalms
1. Wrestling Prayers
Do you ever feel guilty when you feel like arguing with God? I personally am a notorious feeling-stuffer, but unfortunately, that can hurt my walk with the Lord when I don’t open up to him.
If you’re not convinced about the value of getting gut-level honest with God, take a quick glance through the Psalms. Some of them aren’t very nice-sounding. And they’re there for you to use!
These wrestling prayers will ultimately help you find strength in God no matter how you are feeling:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
–Psalm 13: 1–2, 5–6
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” […]
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
–Psalm 42:1–3, 5
Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles
and my life draws near to death.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care.
2. Prayers of Deliverance
Prayer is a battle, and sometimes in order to find strength, you have to focus on the victory. That’s what prayers of deliverance are for: focusing your heart and mind on the victories only God can provide.
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
3. Prayers to God as Protector
One of my favorite metaphors that the Bible uses to describe God is as a shepherd. We humans are the sheep: vulnerable and weak. The Lord protects his sheep from harm, cares for their needs and guides them through the desert. These prayers for strength will help you remember God as your shepherd and protector.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4. Prayers Relying on God’s Strength
We often come to God in prayer for strength because we are feeling weak. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on our own strength, because God has enough for all of us in every circumstance.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
You are my strength, I watch for you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
5. Prayers Remembering God’s Presence
When you’re going through a trial, it’s easy to feel like God doesn’t see what you’re going through or care about it. Praying these Psalms will help you stay strong and remember that he does care, and never leaves you.
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.
Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
These Psalms have been some of my most helpful guides whenever I’ve needed prayers for strength during my times of weakness. If you found them helpful, you might also enjoy the Teach Me to Pray prayer journal, which includes a full week of prayer through the Psalms.
Have you ever found yourself to be too exhausted to find the words to pray? What are some of your favorite Psalms that give you strength?