Why Prayer is the Answer — Even When You Don’t Want it to Be

Your heart lies exposed on the table between you. You’re glad you finally had a chance to share lunch — and life’s latest hard situation — with your friend. The story now told, you sit back, watch as she sips her mocha latte, and wait for your friend’s response.

She sets down her cup and commiserates with you. She can tell you’re having a rough time.

But instead of the wisdom you’re expecting to flow from her lips, she offers only six words: “I’ll pray for you, my friend.”


Don’t get me wrong. I know you appreciate when friends take your concerns to God.

But, is that all?

Where’s the advice? Where are the suggestions you can put into practice today? Prayer is fine, but what’s the solution to your problem?

Perhaps she didn’t understand the severity of the situation, how anxious you are about it. You restate the issue, adding details you may have glossed over the first time.

But your friend’s response remains steadfast: “I’m so sorry you’re going through this; I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers.”

Why Prayer Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

“I’ll pray for you,” feels anemic, like your friend isn’t taking your situation seriously.

But why does it feel that way?

Because we think there’s a solution to our problem. One we haven’t come up with yet.

We think if we talk to enough people, if we explain the nuances of our situation ad nauseam, someone will produce the one solution we need, the magic pill to change our circumstance.

Prayer, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything.

It doesn’t give us an action step to implement. It doesn’t fix the problem, Fairy Godmother-style.

At the end of our prayer, we’re still the same hot mess sitting in the same situation as before we prayed.

What We Want and What We Need

I tend to think in song lyrics. You, too? (Okay, maybe I’m the only one. I can live with that.)

Right now a certain Rolling Stones’ song is cycling through my brain: 

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime, you might find

(everybody now) you get what you neee-eed

Because as much as we want an instant solution to our current life circumstance, we know quick fixes aren’t lasting. Except winning the lottery: that would totally solve all my problems. (I’m kidding, of course.)

Maybe you’re frustrated that your daughter’s more concerned about her girlfriends than her grades. Or you’re still steaming about a recent spat with your spouse. Perhaps fireworks have broken out in your extended family. Or you have concerns about your co-workers.

Regardless of the situation we’re experiencing, we know this isn’t the last negative circumstance we’ll face (John 16:33).

And we know that we grow through enduring trials of all kinds (James 1: 2-4).

So how does prayer help?

The Concrete Benefits of Prayer

Even more than sometimes getting what we want, prayer gives us what we need, because prayer pivots our perspective.

It reminds us how very small we are, and that we are not God.

It reorients our brains to look for God’s solutions instead of worldly ones.

It gives us the hope we couldn’t muster if we knew the solution depended on us alone.

It reminds us that, as much as it can seem that way, we’re not the only ones hurting in our current situation; we’re not the only ones in need of bigger answers.

And it points us to God’s miracles every day, as we look for His solutions rather than complain about our problems.

In fact, when we’re honest, your friend is right: prayer is exactly what we need!

And aren’t we grateful to have a friend who thinks we’re important enough to take our concerns to Almighty God?!

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the privilege of coming to You in prayer. Open our hearts, please, to ask for Your wisdom and to listen to Your voice above all, especially when it’s most difficult for us. We get so caught up in our own situations that we have difficulty seeing the big picture, and we sometimes forget to trust You. Forgive us, please, and guide us to seek You through continual prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  1. Nicol Valentin

    This is so true! Althugh it is nice to get advice every now and then. 🙂

    • Kendra Burrows

      Of course! Godly advice is wonderful also! 😉

  2. Niki

    I love this Kendra. I’ll be sharing it!!
    Visiting from H*W!!

    • Kendra Burrows

      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks, Niki.


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Hi, I’m Kendra

I help bright, successful over-thinkers change their negative thoughts using Scripture and the science of how God made you.

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