5 Ways to Pray When You Feel Too Stressed to Pray

August 8, 2017 | 72 comments

Long ago, on a day when I was feeling particularly frazzled and lonely, I accidentally landed on the blog of a woman named Bonnie Gray. I don’t remember how I got there, but I remember how I felt when I read her words. My nerves unraveled. I felt the peace of God. I felt like I’d found a friend. And then, she became my actual friend — the kind of trusted friend who will always point you to the goodness of Jesus. It’s an absolute privilege to host Bonnie on the blog today. We are celebrating the recent release of her devotional, Whispers of Rest. The book is a 40-day detox for your soul. Absolutely stunning … Welcome, Bonnie.


5 Ways to Pray When You Feel Too Stressed to Pray
By Bonnie Gray

I didn’t know that I was hiding. I’ve always been good at praying.

Or so I thought.

My daddy left when I was seven. I’ve always looked to God as my Father, my provider. I didn’t realize God wanted to be more than just my provider.

God longed to be my soul’s confidante. Deep where I felt lonely — where I struggled to receive and make space for me — God wanted me to rest as His beloved.

Because at the end of the day, even though I had accomplished a lot, I didn’t feel like I had fully lived. Because what I really wanted, I didn’t make space for: peace and joy. I did not nurture my soul with God.

I found it easier to take care of others and get things done for God, rather than be vulnerable with my needs.

But God showed me prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved and known, rather than a spiritual transaction to be made better.

Praying touches the part of me that is in process, uncertain, full of questions and doubts.

That is why praying is hard to do. And when I didn’t know how to pray, it made me feel ashamed.

Jesus understands and whispers –

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to me strong, cheerful, without worries.”

Jesus said the opposite! We’re invited to come to him weary— whether confused, numb, anxious, angry, or stressed. Jesus tells us to simply come. Imperfectly his. As we are.

Even though this is Scripture, in our Christian culture, our desert prayer times are often met with well-meaning encouragement like, “Relationship with God isn’t a feeling.”

Although partially true, this can de-humanize our connection with God. The psalmist reminds us there are no easy answers.

“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
Psalm 103:13

Sometimes, it takes more faith to tell God we don’t know how to pray — rather than praying for faith to pray like we used to.

This is how I began to discover God’s “whispers of rest – powerful Scriptures affirming God’s love for me and learning about soul care: practical ways to feel God’s peace and presence!

I started learning how to love myself the way God loves me. I began researching ways to spark joy and take simple actions to prioritize my well-being, which I wrote about in Whispers of Rest, a book that has just released. 

Do you long to refresh your soul, spark joy and feel God’s love and peace in new ways too?

Well, to my delight, I uncovered 40 easy, soulful ways to pray– even when we feel stressed. These simple, daily rhythms renewed my peace and joy with God – and I know they will renew yours as well!

Here are five in Whispers of Rest.

Whispers of Rest, Bonnie Gray

5 Ways To Pray When You’re Too Stressed To Know How

1. When you’re overwhelmed, whisper His name.

Remember receiving a first love note? It didn’t have to be long. Yet your heart felt known seeing your handwritten name. It kept you company in the daily grind. Whisper His name and listen for His echoes return in the quiet. God names the stars and He whispers your name.

“He heals the broken hearted . . . He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”  Psalm 147:3-5

2. When you don’t have words to pray, rest knowing Jesus is praying for you.

Your silence will not drive Jesus away. Nothing can separate you from His love. Not even your unrest. He’ll never get tired of you. Sometimes, the greatest prayer we can experience is God’s complete understanding and compassion. His presence.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died . . . is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34

3. When you are too stressed to pray, take care of you.

We are a generation who doesn’t know how to express our souls to God, even though we drive ourselves exhausted, doing for Jesus.

Chronic overloading is not a spiritual prerequisite for authentic Christianity. Quite the contrary, overloading is often what we do when we forget who God is. (Richard Swenson)

Extend yourself the kindness and comfort you generously give others. Ironically, the times we most need God’s comfort are the times we deprive ourselves of soul-nurturing time.

We feel selfish. Yet, God says, we can only comfort others, with the comfort we first receive ourselves. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Instead of layering on guilt, let God love you through your choices to prioritize taking care of you.

4. When you feel numb and don’t want to pray, invite Jesus into your world.

Instead of struggling to reach Jesus, invite Jesus to enter your world. Research in a NY Times article shows the power of writing your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness. Even 15 minutes of expressive writing makes a difference.

When we journal our stories with God, we give Him space to re-write our stories with us. Don’t you get ah-ha moments as you write?

“For the word of God is living and active . . . piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit . . .” Hebrews 4:11-12 

“Word” is the Greek word logos, which translates as living voice. God is not limited to the written word. God uses everything living to speak into our lives. This includes journaling.

5. When you’re too exhausted to pray, stop and rest.

“Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.”  1 Kings 19:7

Elijah had done everything he knew to do—even defeating the prophets of Baal.   Yet, his problems did not go away and actually got worse!

Stress broke Elijah’s spirit. In despair, Elijah woke up to find fresh bread baking on hot stones and water—left just for him.

Not only that. God sent an angel—to touch himtwice

God knew Elijah needed physical rejuvenation first in order to hear His gentle voice, whispering in a gentle breeze.

So, when you find it’s hard to pray, don’t be afraid.  You’re standing at the very cusp of who God longs to connect with. The real you.

Take the time to rest. You’re worth it!  Just rest.

Pull up a chair: What helps you experience God’s peace and presence when you feel to stressed too pray?

Whispers of Rest, Bonnie Gray


Bonnie is giving away a copy of her latest book! To enter, simply tell us, by commenting, that you’d like a copy. As always, extra shares on social media means more entries in the drawing. We work on the honor system, so just let us know where you shared. I will draw a winner Friday.

For more encouragement, order a copy of Bonnie Gray’s new 40-day devotional detox Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revlitalize Your Soul. She invites you to refresh your soul with God’s love at TheBonnieGray.com.


Download Free Resources: 6 Video Book Study Series + 6 Prayer Podcasts + 6 Coloring Pages as free companions for your 40-day journey. Sign up at whispersofrest.com.

BONNIE GRAY is author of Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker and retreat leader, she has touched thousands of lives through storytelling, visual arts, nature, prayer and meditation.  Bonnie’s writing is featured on Relevant Magazine, DaySpring’s (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband Eric and their two sons Josh and Caleb.


Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blogfound here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Micah Maddox. If you’ve ever thought “I’d love to write a book one day” then Micah’s post titled ‘How to Get Published’ is for you. It isn’t a step-by-step plan, but a blog post full of encouragement and the reminder that God’s plan (and timing) is best. Find Micah here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer

by | August 8, 2017 | 72 comments


  1. Stacey Ulferts

    I think I missed where to enter the giveaway – but I would really like to win a copy of Bonnie’s new book!

    • dukeslee

      You did it just right, Stacey. And if you shared on any of your social media, be sure to let us know here in the comments, as each entry = your name in the drawing.

  2. Liddy

    I would love to win a copy of this book – it sounds perfectly fitted for my soul right now!

    • Bonnie Gray

      @liddyd:disqus May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. love, Bonnie – and thnx again to @jdukeslee:disqus for pulling an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

  3. Liddy

    I also shared this post on Facebook. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Awesome, Liddy. Two entries for you! 🙂

  4. Debbie Putman

    I have this book in my to-read queue. As soon as we get moved and I unpack, this one gets read!

    • dukeslee

      It’s so good, Debbie!

  5. Heather Hammitt

    I shared on Facebook. I would love to win this book! Thank you!

  6. Jolene Underwood

    I’ll be sharing this on my timeline as well as Twitter and a private group I manage for Cultivating a Life Well-Lived. This is a powerful and beautiful message Bonnie. Thank you for being real and vulnerable while pointing to hope. Would love to read more of your words. Yes, #kindreds.

    • Bonnie Gray

      @joleneunderwood:disqus sweet jolene, thanks for sharing! and giving helping wings to this book through your heart and your social media places. 🙂 I’d love to meet with you through the pages of this book! I have a feeling you’re gonna love it – as God continue to uses you to shine His love to others! #kindreds May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. love, Bonnie – and thnx again to Jennifer for pulling an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

  7. Susan

    Bonnie’s book was read and paid forward. Lovely lady. Lovely words.

  8. S.Etole

    Something I need to do during this time. A copy of her book would be greatly appreciated.

  9. MaryD

    Really needed this reminder today about praying! Feeling so overwhelmed with much to do. Nice reminder to be still and let Jesus be Jesus for me. Would love the book!

    • Bonnie Gray

      @disqus_MF1QIsZ8By:disqus thnx for sharing your heart vulnerably. I hope we’ll be able to meet between the pages of #WhispersofRest. May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. love, Bonnie – and thnx again to @jdukeslee:disqus for pulling an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

  10. bonnie fuhrman

    would love to read whispers of rest and be reminded for 40 days of His love for me….thank you for accepting my entry 🙂

  11. Joanne Vaughns

    I would love a copy of Whispers of Rest!!!

  12. Angel Ward

    I would like a copy of this book. : )

  13. Linda

    “When you don’t have the words to pray, rest, knowing He is praying for you”
    This is right where I am at in this season of my life.
    Thanks for this opportunity to be reminded that He loves me, just as I am, and understands me ( even when I don’t understand myself and my reactions to life !)
    Would love a copy !

    • Bonnie Gray

      @Linda: May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment.love, Bonnie – thnx again to Jennifer for pulling an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

  14. Amy Odland

    Would love a copy of this book! I will share on FB & Instagram!

  15. Susan Beam Bogue

    What a lovely article to give us tools to help us into His peaceful presence.. even when praying is difficult.Id love to win a copy of the extended version of ideas. Ill share on facebook. Lookingforward to checking out Bonnie Gray’s blog in the days to come.

    • Bonnie Gray

      @susanbeambogue:disqus Thanks to Jennifer for having me today and giving me a chance to share some coffee for your soul. May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. love, Bonnie #blessing

  16. Gretchan

    I would love a copy of Whispers of Rest! I will share too! Thanks Amy Odland for sharing!

  17. Jennifer Drummond

    Thanks for this post! I’d love a copy of the book, and appreciate the chance. 🙂

  18. Mary Beth

    Sure would love to win this book – maybe it would help with my overstress and overwhelm!

    • Bonnie Gray

      @disqus_7jXDwUZLbx:disqus I hope you win a copy too! It will help with overstress and overwhelm – just as it’s done for me & many friends in the #WhispersofRest community! May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. love, Bonnie – and thnx again to Jennifer for pulling up an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

  19. Leslie

    This is such a good article. Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your book and resources with us here today. On this particular day, coming here helps me take a deep breath and know that it will be OK. Thank you as well, Jennifer, for sharing your space! I’m sharing this article on 3 socials.

    • Bonnie Gray

      @disqus_QPHIodj4im:disqus thanks so much for sharing with your friends! You’re an encourager, I can tell. 🙂 And us encouragers need encouragement, to receive the love and kindness you so lovingly pour onto others. May you feel as beloved and beautiful, as you truly are – this very moment. In God’s heart and ours. love, Bonnie – and thnx again to Jennifer for pulling an extra chair here for me today! #blessing

      • Leslie

        Bonnie, that is so sweet. Thank you!

  20. Mary Beth

    Shared on Facebook.

  21. Jocelyn

    I would love to read this book. I’ve been going through a season, after praying so diligently for a family member. God did not change his direction and I find it’s hard to pray now. My heart is just so broken. I believe there is a reason why God worked the way He did, but it’s been difficult to watch a life walking in disobedience. I want to pray but I find I have no words. Thank you for sharing about Bonnie’s book.

    • Bonnie Gray

      @disqus_ZsNVxJiFIA:disqus thanks for sharing so vulnerably here. can I pray for you? dear Jesus, thank you for Jocelyn. Reassure her of your complete understand and place your loving arms of love around her, so close that she can just sink into your embrace. Whisper the words of love that will bring her your peace and presence. Thank you for praying for my sister-in-Christ Jocelyn, even as she has no words, she doesn’t need them. Becasue you are right there with her. bring her comfort, in the way only you can do. You love her. You know her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  22. Gretchen Smith Matthews

    This book sounds like the just the antidote I need when I’ve allowed myself to be overcome by the world. Thank you for sharing the 5 ideas you highlighted in this piece; I liked them so much I shared them right away with my own readers over on my blog’s FB page. May Bonnie’s book be a wonderful success and a blessing to many!

  23. Connie McCord Bjorklund

    I would love to win the copy of Bonnie’s book. Thank you for sharing this story!

  24. Sharon Hendricks

    Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of this book! I would love it! And Bonnie is so right….we are worth it, but too often we don’t believe it.

    • Sharon Hendricks

      I just shared on Facebook!

  25. Michele Mobley

    I enjoyed reading the excerpt from the book. This speaks to where I am
    right now. I would love to read the book! I shared on google+ as well!

  26. Michele Morin

    Jennifer, you are such an example here in your hospitality to other authors and your willingness to share their work. Thanks for this glimpse of Bonnie’s praying heart.

  27. Katie Shook Bouchie

    I’d love a copy of Whispers of Rest! As the kids start back at school, I need to develop new habits of my own. This sounds like something to soothe my soul.

    Shared on fb too.

  28. Michelle

    I would enjoy a copy of this book, Whispers of Rest

  29. Tina Carpenter

    The Whispers of Rest seems like a great book to read. I would love to win a copy. I’d never thought of “rest” in that way before. Thank you!

  30. Deborah Flora

    I would love to win a copy! I’m always excited about inspiring books.

    • Deborah Flora

      I shared this post on Twitter.

  31. Suzanne

    I would love to win a copy of this book! I need it, and I have a friend who would benefit from me passing it on to her, too!

  32. Suzanne

    Shared on Facebook and Pinterest!

  33. Sue Donaldson

    And Bonnie’s article just was published in Relevant magazine! shared on Pinterest!

  34. Amber C

    I loved Bonnie’s raw vulnerability in “Finding Spiritual Whitespace.” It gave me a new lens to view my own childhood. I’m still uncovering the little girl in me, but that book taught me that it’s OK to bring the little girl, along with my messy, anxious, undeserving adult self, to Jesus in different kinds of rest. It’s still hard, but the results are so, so good. I can’t wait to read Whispers of Rest–I hope I win a copy! (Also shared on Pinterest.)

  35. Amy Dowty

    This book looks amazing! Shared on Facebook

  36. Susan Purnell Ruffalo

    I love the picture you painted of Jesus praying for me!! Me. A mess of a mom. A mess of a frazzled person. He prays for me. Thank you Jesus for loving Me!

  37. Abby Blacklock

    I would love this book!!!! Shared on IG and FB. 🙂

  38. Betsy Cruz

    What beautiful encouragement today! I’ll share on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest. I love these 5 ideas, especially the idea of just inviting Jesus to come along with whatever you’re doing. Like a breath of fresh air for the soul.

  39. JViola79

    I would love to read this encouraging book. I shared on Twitter too. Thank you for the opportunity!

  40. Rebecca

    This book looks stunning, like a balm to the weary, wounded soul. I would love to read it!

  41. Micah Maddox

    Jennifer! Thank you so much for featuring my publishing post this week! And I think we all need the message of Bonnie’s book. Sounds so encouraging and needed in the busy world we live in. I love number 1. Jesus. That does so much for me!

  42. Teresa

    I would like to read this book. Bonnie’s thoughts about journaling as a way God can communicate with us resonated with me. By the way, I finished reading The Happiness Dare last month. I am a thinker and an experiencer.

  43. Patricia Holbrook

    I would love to have this book! I too struggle with finding those pockets of rest for my soul when life is chaotic. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer! Godspeed to you, Bonnie!

  44. robin

    I would love a copy of Bonnie’s book, Whispers of Rest. Beautiful words. I am a believer in journaling and the healing that takes place when we write our prayers and our story, sharing our feelings with God. I love how Bonnie shares, “when we journal our stories with God, we give Him space to re-write our stories with us. Don’t you get ah-ha moments as you write?” These words are so reflective of God’s grace and love. Thank you for sharing!

  45. Sarah Geringer

    I have heard wonderful things about this book, and this post is a peaceful taste of the contents. Sharing this post with my readers on FB and Twitter today (8.9.17 at 3:30 p.m.). Thank you Bonnie for these practical suggestions!

  46. Tiffany

    Your encouragements here are so much of what I am praying God cultivates in my heart and soul. I’ve gotten better, but I am most definitely a doer first and I have to be very intentional about choosing rest and quieting my heart. Too often, I learn the hard way that I pressed past a point I shouldn’t have. Thank you for your reminders, Bonnie. I’d love a copy of this book.

  47. Linda Perkins

    What a great post! I definitely can relate. I have learned to prioritize my mental and spiritual health, but I must admit that there are times I literally have to remind myself to exhale … and to give it to God. I am so grateful that Jesus is praying for me, because so often He is the only one who really knows what I really need. Thanks for the freebies! I too would love a copy of the book. I will post a link out today on both Twitter and Facebook. 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Linda! You are the winner! Let’s connect via email or FB. My email is jdukeslee @ gmail dot com. Or find me on FB. Send me your mailing address!

  48. Jordan Taylor

    This was perfect for me to read today. I’ve been studying 1 Samuel with She reads truth, and was struck by Hannah’s deep faith– particularly in her prayers to God about giving her a child. She wasn’t afraid to pray hard, deep prayers to God– as the Message version says, she poured her heart out to God. I don’t know how to do that. I’m afraid to, honestly. I’m afraid to rest when there’s so much to do. I’m afraid to take care of myself when so many people need me! I’m afraid that if I try to let my guard down to God or to people, they’ll see me and all my mess and run.

    This was perfectly timed, Bonnie and Jennifer. Thanks so much. It was just what my soul needed.

  49. Stacy

    I would love to have this book for myself but I think my husband needs it more. He’s at a place where simply whispering the name of Jesus is about all he can do. I sure would appreciate prayers for him from anyone who reads my comment!

  50. Anita

    I have found all five of these to be true in my life :). Especially the journaling part. As a blogger, I find myself constantly asking myself what lesson I can learn from the situations I find myself in.

  51. Julie Loos

    This book sounds amazing and what my soul is craving 🙂
    Can’t wait to read it!

  52. Maree Dee

    This book sounds wonderful. I love #1 just say his name. I am sharing on all social media. Maree

  53. Leanne

    I am catching up on my blog reading and this one sounds really interesting! I’m “supposed” to meditate daily (the docs even say its good for you), but do I? No, of course not … or if I do it’s not “conventional meditation”, it’s taking a walk, snuggling with my pups, making art (sometimes), or waking in the morning repeating a chant …

  54. Debbie Mason

    I’d love to have a copy of this book….just what I’ve been longing for…REST! Can’t wait to read!

  55. Amy

    I would love a copy of this book! Sounds just what I have been needing.

  56. dukeslee

    Thank you, everyone, for entering the drawing for this book. We had SO MANY entries, and I suspect it’s because we are all needing a little more REST in our busy lives. The winner is Linda Perkins. And I will be contacting her directly. If you didn’t want, I highly recommend picking up the book. It’s only $9.48 on Amazon right now!

  57. Luann Hoerner

    I would like a copy!



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