When You Think of God, Pray

WhenYouThinkofGodSo many of us spend more time feeling guilty about not praying than we actually spend praying. What if, every time we thought about God or prayer, instead of feeling guilty about not doing it more, we just prayed?

Virtually all personal correspondence begins with an apology for not writing sooner. When you receive a letter or an e-mail, do you want to dwell on how long it’s been since the person wrote and their reasons for not doing so, or are you just excited to hear from them and to read the letter? Which way do you think God feels when we reach out in prayer, even after a long absence.

The people who are best at prayer almost universally advise us to stop feeling bad about it. Yes, we will forget, but Thomas R. Kelly, in A Testament of Devotion, recommends that we just forgive ourselves and move on. Brother Lawrence says that when his attention was drawn away from God, that God simply recalled it not with punishment but with a delightful sensation, and Brother Lawrence was only too happy to comply, remembering how miserable he had felt without God.

When you think of God, pray. Eventually it becomes a habit.

Non-Expert Tips on Prayer

  1. Plan to do it when you’re best, and if that’s at 2 a.m., then you’ll probably have a nice uninterrupted prayer time.
  2. Just start with a few minutes in God’s presence. Really. And if you can do thirty minutes the first time, I don’t want to know about it.
  3. Try not to judge your results too much. Well, try not to.
  4. If you are worried about having the right words to bring a petition before God, just picture God’s light and peace shining over this person.
  5. If you forget for a day or a week or a month, just forgive yourself and try again. God will still be there.
  6. Stop obsessing about it. Just do it. Repeat.

06-30-14 Author photo Julia RollerJulia Roller is an author, editor, and contributor to numerous spiritual formation guides and books. She has written study guides for authors such as Desmond Tutu, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Jenna Bush. She and her family live in San Diego, CA. This article is from her new book, Mom Seeks God: Practicing Grace in the Chaos.

From Mom Seeks God ©2013 by Julia Roller (Abingdon Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Good reminder, Hester! We can’t remind people enough that we love and care for them, just as God does in his perfect way.

  2. 3 weeks ago
    Pat W says

    I’ve learned to pray in the moment. I belong to several private women’s group on FB and when someone puts up a prayer request, I pray for it at that moment and then let them know. If in speaking with someone, a need is mentioned, I will pray for that person at that time. I don’t do well with setting apart large periods of time, but by spreading it out througout the day, I connect with my Father all day long.

  3. Before I used to try to make time to pray, then I learn that prayer does not have to be some technical thing between you and God. I learn to simply talk to God. Tell him my frustrations, my worries, concerns, what I was thinking about, what I wanted. It was through learning to have a normal conversation with God, that my prayer with Him grew. And when my prayer grew I started to have a more personal relationship with God.

    • Sophia, I can so relate to what you wrote here. I think we so often are defeated by making prayer to be so much more complicated than it needs to be and thus preventing ourselves from just talking to God! I have learned that just talking to God is always the best place to start. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. Julia,
    Thank you for this article. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt guilty when someone asks me, “how is your quiet time”. When it isn’t so great, I’m afraid to say “it isn’t great”, but I do and then feel embarrassed and guilt rears it’s ugly head. Just start where you are. I think that is a great way to look at prayer time with God. He loves us no matter how it sounds or what we say. Our Father wants to commune with His children. I am going to take your advice. Having a nice quiet place with little distractions is best. Taking time to breathe and then drawing close to Him through prayer is a beautiful thing. Over time (I’m telling myself this, too! :-)), His Spirit will give us the words and the peace as we seek to have a closer relationship with the Lord.

    Sandra Brooks McCravy

    • Sandra, thank you so much. It was hard for me to admit in my book that I was struggling with making daily prayer a habit because I was so worried that others would judge me and maybe not even want to read any further! A few people did react that way, but for the most part, I’ve found that so many of us struggle with not meeting our own expectations of prayer. I love how you put it: “Just start where you are.” Yes!

  5. A long time ago I bumped into a friend while running errands. I said to him, “You have been on my mind all week and I meant to give you a call.” He responded, “Denise, that is the Spirit of God leading you (prompting, as I would say) to call me.” He also told me that things had been going on in his life and that he would have loved to have spoken to me about those “things”. We proceeded to have lunch and catch up. When God drops a thought on our mind, I have learned it is at that time, we need to respond. He has perfect timing and sets divine appointments up for us so He will be glorified. We must learn to drop what we are doing and do what he has dropped in our hearts.

    • What a great story, Denise! And I love the way you put that, about dropping what we are doing and doing what God has dropped into our hearts. So often we can err by focusing on the to-do list rather than the relationships that God has given us. Thank you for sharing.

  6. As Julia reminds us, “practice makes perfect!” It made such a difference for me when I realized not only was morning prayer my “day starter,” but it became, during the day,as natural as deep breathing. My thoughts turned deeper and evolved to conversation, petitions, & praises, with my heavenly Father who, in turn, pours His mercy and grace all over me, and we go through the day together.

    Thanks Julia for the refreshing reminder and challenge!

    • Rhea, it’s so encouraging to read how your prayers moved you ever deeper with our Father. For me, I found that praying consistently at night helped me to feel God’s presence so much more palpably throughout the next day. And I love the reminder that as we grow in our prayer lives, it becomes as natural as breathing. God is so good to us!

  7. 1 month ago
    Sharon says

    This is such a freedom for me. Reading your article today, I could relate very closely with the obsession in not praying and dwelling there. I would feel disappointed in myself and remind myself how I haven’t been praying. That is such a tactic of satan – to keep us dwelling on what we haven’t done and feel guilty about it. The gavel has sounded on that lie now for me. I will take this advice you have mentioned and move forward in it. Thank you for sharing so honestly. You have reached me.

    • Sharon, I’m so glad. Thank you so much for sharing here. I hope you’ve found some new freedom in prayer.

  8. 1 month ago
    Mary Kathryn Sitarski says

    I recently became an author of my book, titled It’s In His Hands. Xulon Press made a video trailer of my book, which can be viewed on Godtube.com or on Youtube. This is a must read book. It ismy testimony of Jesus Christ being my provider, comforter, deliverer, healer, and savior. When you go through life threatening trials, just know that It’s In His Hands.

    Mary Kathryn Sitarski,

  9. 1 month ago
    hester freeman says

    Im thankful for prayer it help me get thur the day n I feel good when I know God hears me when ever I think of someone (everyone need prayer)I pray for them my bible study teacher told us this n whenever we think of someone give them a call or send a card the person will feel better thanks for the uplifting reading

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