Dr. Dan Hayden •

I know how to pray—I’ve been doing it for years. What I sometimes don’t know, however, is what to pray. “What” is my problem—not “how.”

It was early August, and I was ministering at a camp in northern Wisconsin. The first day a man came to me and said, “Dan, pray that God will give us good weather this week. It’s been a rough year, and we need a vacation filled with sunshine.” That night one of the local farmers was there for the evening Bible study, and he said to me, “Dan, it’s been a dry summer, and the crops are not doing well. We desperately need rain. Would you pray that God would give us rain this week?” So, what should I pray? I must confess—I was torn between the two requests. I didn’t know what to pray. Actually I prayed that it would be sunny during the day, and that it would rain at night. Oh well, not everything is that simple!

God says in Romans 8:26, “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray as we should…”


It’s this little word what with which we so often struggle. You see, so often when we pray we’re not real sure whether or not what we want is what God wants for us. We pray and ask God for things, but sometimes our prayers aren’t good for us because we’re asking for the wrong thing in our ignorance. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit to help us in our prayers. He knows exactly what we need, which may be far different than what we have asked, because the Holy Spirit prays according to the will of God. That’s why our prayers often come back different than the way we prayed them, because the Holy Spirit has prayed a better prayer on our behalf.

So next time you pray, just commit the situation to God and ask the Holy Spirit to do what is right.

Prayer loses its frustration if you quit telling God what to do.

For further study, see The Prayer Puzzle.