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You Don’t Have to Master The Mystery of Prayer

Do you still have questions about the mystery of prayer. Don’t let not having all the answers stop you from praying!

You don't have to master the mystery of prayer in order to pray! God is prepared for your inability. Go ahead and pray - express your dependence on Him.


How do you reply when someone asks you, “What is prayer anyway?”

My first response is usually: “Prayer is an expression of dependence on God.”


To depend on someone means that you need them.

You’re counting on them for something.

Without them, what you need would be missing, unfulfilled.

As created beings, we are dependent on God. Whether we want to be or not. Whether we think about it or not.


In [God] we live and move and exist.

Acts 17:28

For by [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:16


You and I are dependent on God whether we express or deny that dependence.

We probably don’t fully comprehend that dependence.

Do you acknowledge your dependence on God? Do you express it through prayer?

There are many reasons we avoid prayer:

  • we presume we don’t need God
  • we assume God doesn’t care
  • perhaps we don’t care
  • we’re afraid of the answer
  • we might not get an answer
  • we don’t know how

While any one of those reasons may prevent us from crying out to God in prayer, it’s also possible that we don’t pray like we could because we just plain don’t understand prayer. And we really don’t like things we don’t understand.

Ever since Adam and Eve first began communicating with God in the Garden of Eden, hundreds of questions have been asked about the mystery of prayer. And thousands of answers have been offered. But, like God Himself, prayer is one of those things we will never fully comprehend.


mystery of prayer


In his book, A Praying Life, Paul Miller states:

If you are going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control, to figure out how prayer works.

We must give up trying to master the mystery of prayer. Of trying to determine a formula that will allow us to get it right every time. The effectiveness of our prayers does not depend on getting it right. God is aware that we won’t know just how to pray! And He’s prepared for that.


In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

But we must not give up praying. Of communicating with the Creator and Sustainer or our life. Of expressing our dependence, our need for God.

Our need to trust God.

Our need to rely on God.

Our need to wait on God.

So stop trying to fully understand prayer before you pray.

But definitely pray. Pray because you need God. I need God. We don’t just need what God can give us or do for us.

We need God Himself.

You don't have to master the mystery of prayer in order to pray! God is prepared for your inability. Go ahead and pray - express your need for God.


Quotes on Prayer

Here are a few quotes on prayer that I’ve gathered. Each one captures a tiny essence of the mystery of prayer. My hope is that they encourage and inspire you to acknowledge your dependence on God and to express that dependence through prayer.


Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life. It offers you a less busy heart.

 — Paul Miller

If prayer seems to you a diversion from productivity, remember that God does more in five seconds than we can in five hours.

 — John Piper

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.

 — Elisabeth Elliot


Once we learn to pray with our hearts and not our lips we truly begin to have a conversation with God.

 — Unknown


Prayer isn’t about the answer. It’s about the opportunity to see God at work.

 — Elisa Pulliam


What wings are to a bird and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul. Corrie ten Boom


Prayer isn’t to remind God what your problems are, but prayer is to remind your problems who God is.

 — Unknown


God will either give us what we asked or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything He knows.

 — Timothy Keller


Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.

— Unknown


Worry and stress are indicators to pray! We give God our cares, and He gives us His peace.

 — Unknown


But neither should we let our inability to master the mystery of prayer stop us from studying such a vital and life-changing practice. Look into these resources, old and new, for more prayer inspiration.


Prayer Resources


Praying the Promises of the Cross – a 40 Devotional & Scripture Prayer Journal (the link will take you to further description; click the Promises of the Cross link in the description to purchase)

Change the Way You Pray – online article by Paul Tripp

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

How To Pray In The Spirit: 31 Devotional Readings by John Bunyan

A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller

A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle

Does Prayer Change Things? R.C. Sproul


Tell me – do you have a favorite quote or resource on the mystery of prayer?


This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchasing through a link does not change your price, but Joy In My Kitchen will make a few pennies. Thank you!

Shared at: Grace & TruthThoughtful ThursdayWomen With IntentionCoffee & Conversation,


  1. “Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life. It offers you a less busy heart.” Love this quote!

    • Oh, how we need less busy hearts . . . and yet so often forget where to find them! Good reminder for me again. Have a great week, Robin.

  2. bekalynn02 says:

    Wow! What a comprehensive resource! I love your response to questions about prayer and that Tim Keller quote is spot on! All of them are! So love this—> “We don’t just need what God can give us or do for us. We need God himself.”

  3. Hi Abi, this is so encouraging there are many times I want to like you said figure out prayer but that is not the important part. I do believe we are expressing our dependance on God when we pray. Great post!

  4. Hi Abi! I love this post. Sometimes I feel like I don’t need to buy one more book on prayer… I just need to pray. Yet, I also know that I grow in my understanding as I glean wisdom from others. My favorite new quote on prayer is one I read in a David Jeremiah devotion – ‘Our prayers are deathless!’ It encourages me to keep praying and keep trusting God; our prayers live on long after we do.

    • That is an encouraging quote, Carlie. A neat thought that God continues to work life into our requests even after we may have forgotten them.

  5. Thanks for this thoughtful reflection and the wonderful list of quotes on prayer. As I was reading about the Paul Miller book I wondered if you had read his book on the book of Ruth about hesed love entitled A Loving Life. It is a great book!

    • Hi, Pam.

      I have not read A Loving Life yet, but our pastor has highly recommended it too. It’s on my list to get to!

      Thanks for stopping by,

  6. Thank you for this post!! I am always so insecure about praying because I am constantly questioning if I am saying things right or ending my prayer right…love the quotes you found!

    • So glad you were encouraged, Carole. God loves for you to come to Him in dependence and is not at all concerned about right words or form – go to Him freely as a good Father who’s ready to give good things to you! James 1:17


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