By Donna Hughey

Believers sometimes have a hard time going to God in prayer. It’s not because we don’t want to share our wants, needs, or anxieties with our Father — it’s because we don’t know why or how to approach him. And because some of us feel as if we’re always unloading our problems on God, we imagine God saying something like, “here we go again” every time we pray.

In other words, we’ve fallen into the trap of believing we’ve become a burden to God. This way of thinking can cause fear and extreme stress every time we talk to God — something that can negatively affect our prayer life as well as our relationship with him.

But there is a way of overcoming feelings of being a burden and the awkwardness of approaching God with requests, and it begins by believing and trusting what God says.

To start, we need to understand that prayer is possible only because of what Jesus did on the cross. His death removed the sin barrier that kept us separated from God. And because Christ paid the penalty for our sin, we now have the privilege of coming before God with complete freedom and confidence. Listen to this verse:

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).

And not only can we approach God with complete freedom and confidence, Scripture also teaches that God eagerly wants us to talk to him and has promised to hear every word we utter in prayer. Listen to this:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14 NIV).

While the above verse contains an awesome promise from God — his promise to hear each and every prayer we utter — it’s a promise we can fully trust because Scripture teaches it’s impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

Not only does God promise to hear every prayer, He wants us to know he hears our prayers even when we can’t find the words to express how or what we’re feeling. Listen to how the apostle Paul explains this:

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26-27 NIV).

God is not surprised by those of us who have a hard time approaching him in prayer with needs and desires, especially if we feel unworthy. But this isn’t the way he wants us to feel. In fact, he graciously explains why we can approach him (because of the sacrifice of Christ), and also how to approach him (with complete freedom and confidence). He promises us that he hears every prayer, even the prayers that are wordless, and reminds us he is trustworthy — that he does not lie.

However, it’s up to us to trust his promises and to understand what a gift prayer is. Instead of approaching God feeling like a burden or by being weighed down with shame and guilt, approach him with the freedom and confidence gained by what Christ did on the cross.

Realize what a privilege prayer is and take full advantage of that privilege. Confidently come to God with your needs, concerns, and whatever others issues you’re dealing with in your life.

But above all, find comfort in this amazing verse:

“The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7 NIV).

And then trust God to be who he says he is.

Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.