7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times - Harvest Prayer Ministries 7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times - Harvest Prayer Ministries

7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times

By Kim Butts

We all know that in good times, it seems easier to pray. Our prayers flow from a place of gratitude and peace, thankfulness and joy. Yet, in difficult or painful times, it is much harder to press into the Lord in prayer. We know in our heads that God is the place we should go whether our circumstances are good or bad; however, sometimes we can feel paralyzed with fear, doubt, anger, disbelief, sadness, uncertainty, and a wide range of other emotions depending upon the situation.

Sometimes, it is only out of the absolute desperation of our heart that we overcome the paralysis and run to the Father…even if that running involves no words at all. There are times when it is all we can do to come into His presence and just sit in our pain, loneliness, fear, or whatever emotion is overtaking us. But one amazing truth about God is that our hearts can cry out in the silence…and God still hears. This is a key principle of prayer that we must always remember: God is always there! He is present with us continually.

Be assured, His word says that He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He will not leave us in this difficult place unless we insist on staying there. If we seek Him with all of our heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He longs to comfort us and sit with us in the midst of our trial. His will, plan and purposes are unfolding in His perfect timing even when it doesn’t seem this way to us.

Here are some specific ways to pray during difficult times, as well as when any trial comes your way, and they will:

  1. Pray that God will be honored and glorified, whatever your circumstance, even if you have to suffer or go through a difficult time: “…and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
  2. Love and pray for people who cause harm or suffering to you, or to others: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’” (Matthew 5:43-44).
  3. Pray for God to show you what He needs you to learn in the midst of difficult times: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (Psalm 25:9).
  4. Give thanks to God in the midst of whatever you are walking through: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Important note: He does not say to give thanks for your circumstances, but to give thanks in the midst of them!
  5. Pray that God will help you to be faithful instead of fearful when trials come: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
  6. Pray that God will help you to be a light in the darkness to those who don’t yet know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). When people see the way you walk through difficulty, they will want to know where you draw your strength from!
  7. Give thanks to God because He has overcome the trials and troubles of the world: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

(c) Harvest Prayer Ministries, 2020


7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times

In every election cycle, American Christians have amazing opportunities sandwiched between grave dangers. We are privileged to be a part of a nation of people who have the responsibility to choose their own leaders.

For those believing that godly leaders are a source of blessing to a nation, elections provide us with great opportunity. However, when we begin to put our hope in leaders rather than in the Lord, we open ourselves to serious peril.

God’s Word is very clear about having an undivided heart, trusting only in the Lord. King David, the mighty warrior, says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Ps. 20:7).

Awareness of this verse can create a tension in the thinking Christian. Some have overreacted and rejected the political process completely. Such people will be less motivated to pray over the elections.  A balanced and biblical approach, however, allows us to fully participate in the electoral process without falling into improperly placed trust.

In Paul’s teaching on prayer in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, one of the major thrusts is praying for those in authority. According to Paul’s reasoning, we want good government that allows us to live “peaceful and quiet lives”—ultimately freeing us to evangelize those who are lost.

Paul would have been amazed that Christians could someday actually take part in selecting those leaders. I believe he would have been even more amazed (and appalled) that many of those Christians didn’t even bother to get involved in selecting their leaders for the purposes of God to be fulfilled.

Praying for the electoral process is the first step in seeing the fulfillment of what Paul is writing about to Timothy. I don’t believe we should wait for a leader to be selected before we move into obedient prayer for those in authority. In prayer, we invite the Lord into the process of electing those leaders who will ultimately allow us to lead “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (v. 2).

So why pray for the elections? There are four compelling reasons:

  • The Bible commands us to pray for those who are in leadership, which would include those who are vying to become leaders.
  • Godly leaders can help slow the erosion of religious liberties in our land, providing an increased window of opportunity for the Church to pray and evangelize.
  • The selection of leaders who understand and lead according to God’s righteous standards can bring great blessing to a nation (Prov. 14:34).
  • Scripture also says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure” (Prov. 11:14). The determination of who leads our nation will also determine who advises that leader and how we are guided.

This blog is adapted from Praying for an Election: A Non-Partisan, Scripture-Based Prayer Guide by David Butts.

Click here to order this powerful prayer guide!

Praying for an Election

A Prayer to Emmanuel – God with Us!

7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times

Father, the day of celebration is upon Your people! As we anticipate Your Son’s birth, we ask that you would stop our rushing around, and our frantic preparation to help us consider that Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior…is already here among us! He is God with Us – Jesus, our Emmanuel.

E – Expectation

Emmanuel, show me how each one of my days, not just Christmas, should and can be filled with the expectation of all You want to do in and through my life. May I be filled with the anticipation of Anna and Simeon when they first laid eyes on the infant, Jesus! Restore to my heart the constant wonder and anticipation of Your life living in me!

Luke 2:22-38

M – Mercy

Emmanuel, the Father’s great gift of mercy, was given to me through Your birth, life, death and resurrection! I am no longer living as a condemned person, but as one who has been fully forgiven and redeemed! How thankful I am for the sacrifice You made so that I might live in freedom and victory every day of my life on this earth!

Romans 8:1-4


M – Mindfulness

Emmanuel, I want to be intensely aware of Your presence each and every moment! Help me to sense Your nearness at all times and in every circumstance whether good or bad! May my ears be attentive to hear Your voice alone so that I don’t fall for the lies of the enemy who would like nothing better than to distract me or cause me to fall into sin. Draw me close, Emmanuel! I will fix my eyes upon You!

Isaiah 30:21

Hebrews 12:2


A – Adoration

Emmanuel, You are the One my heart longs for and I give You praise and honor and glory and offer up my whole self as a living sacrifice. My lips will sing Your praise every day…not just this day. “Yours is the mighty power and glory and victory and majesty. Everything in the heavens and earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your kingdom. I adore You as being in control of everything!

1 Chronicles 29:11


N – Nations

Emmanuel, You are the King! You rule the nations of the earth! You came for every single person on this earth, and God promised You in Psalm 2 the ends of the earth as Your inheritance – every nation on this planet! You have commissioned me to be a conduit for Your gospel to go throughout the nations! Use me for Your purposes to seek and save those who are lost and without hope so that I might be part of the fulfilling of God’s promise to You, Lord Jesus!

Psalm 22:28


U – Understanding

Emmanuel, I long for an even deeper understanding of all that You are! Show me how to dig more deeply into Your heart and to long to know You more intimately than ever before. Help me to more fully grasp the love of the Father! I want to have a greater awareness of Your character, and to be more yielded to the working of Your Spirit within me as You mold and shape my heart for Your purposes.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 


E –  Eternity

Emmanuel, because You have set eternity in my heart, I am already living in eternity and will live with You forever and ever! What an amazing gift. Help me to live today in the light of eternity! May I continually be praying and acting so that “on earth as it is in heaven” becomes a reality in the midst of those who interact with me. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth, and in my life, as it is in heaven…and throughout eternity!

Ecclesiastes 3:11


L –  Love

Emmanuel, You are the gift of love sent from God, the Father to me and all of humanity. Your greatest commandments are to love God with all of my heart, soul, strength and mind…and to love others as myself. May this be a continual reality in my life as long as I draw breath here on earth. I ask that You would help me to comprehend the love that the Father has for You is also in Your people!

John 17:20-26


May the love and favor of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Emmanuel, rest upon you! (1 Corinthians 16:23)



Kim serves as the Executive Director of Harvest Prayer Ministries which she co-founded in 1993 with her late husband, Dave (1953-2022). Her ministry involves teaching/training and consulting as well as writing and developing resources. She is content coordinator for HPM's teaching platform, PrayerU.com and also compiles and edits HPM’s free daily devotional, Connection! as well as Prayer Tip Tuesday.

Kim has written multiple books and has published articles in a variety of magazines and publications. She is a member of America's National Prayer Committee and serves as President of Gospel Revivals, Inc. (Herald of His Coming).

Kim has a BA in Psychology and a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership.

Some of Kim's Books

9 Ideas to Increase Attendance at Your Prayer Meetings!

By Kim Butts

If you have a weekly/regular prayer meeting and it has dwindled down to the “faithful few,” it’s time to take stock. If you are the organizer(s) of the prayer meetings, it can get discouraging if people are not participating in arguably the most important spiritual act designed by God and so prolifically practiced in the Book of Acts and the rest of Scripture.

First, let’s look at the main reasons why people have either stopped coming or have never come to your prayer meeting:

  1. They are afraid. Most people feel very inadequate about their prayer lives. The last thing they want to do is to be in a situation where they might be asked to pray out loud, or in a group with others. Many of these people would rather focus only on their own prayer closet and devotions rather than step into corporate prayer experiences.


  1. They are intimidated. When people come to the prayer meeting and feel that there are some people who pray with an authority or eloquence they don’t have, they are less likely to feel comfortable praying in such an environment. Because prayer is so natural to the seasoned intercessors who plan the meetings, they expect the rest of the church to be like them. Clearly this isn’t the case, as many believers haven’t been trained to pray in the home or by the church.


  1. They are bored. Many people feel that prayer meetings are always predictable and have a mind-numbing sameness to them. Unfortunately, the default mode of prayer for most churches is to pray the “sick” list. Many of the people on “the list” aren’t even known to most of the people who are praying for them – they are friends, relatives or acquaintances of people in the church. It is important to pray for those with health issues; however, when that is all we ever pray about, people rapidly disengage. If people don’t have a sense of God’s presence, and that Heaven is engaged with their prayers, they aren’t motivated or excited about coming to a meeting where “nothing happens” and with a belief that their prayers don’t matter.


  1. They are frustrated. These people know they want something different…something more than the litany of illnesses and personal prayer requests. They feel that prayer should be more than what they have experienced but have no idea what to do to make it better. There are also those who DO know what could be done but don’t have a voice in the planning or preparation.


  1. They are ambivalent. Because many people are not being trained in prayer in their homes or at church, most don’t see the point and view prayer as a religious exercise for the super-spiritual. Prayer has never been an important part of their Christian experience, or they perceive that it really has never “worked” for them.


  1. They don’t see church leadership actively involved. The engagement of church leadership is also a critical component of the prayer meetings. If your pastor(s) and church leaders are not proponents and participants at some level in your process of planning and engaging others in the practice of a regular corporate prayer rhythm, it will be difficult to get more of the congregation to come to prayer meetings. If leadership is not very involved, begin praying at once for them! Don’t whine, gripe or grumble – pray! Ask God to make your leaders people of prayer who will teach and encourage prayer so that the congregation will follow their lead.


Drawing People to the Prayer Meeting

God created prayer for the purpose of accomplishing His will on this planet through the prayers of His people. It’s a divine mystery, but a compelling truth. Let’s look at some ways to help people grow their passion for the Father and His plans and purposes for prayer that will translate to more people having greater participation in corporate prayer experiences:


  1. Help people to encounter God. Incorporate worship into your prayer meetings, helping people focus on the One Who sits on the throne in Heaven as the object of your love and devotion. It is important for God’s people to realize that prayer is intimacy with Him and for His glory! Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Our Father in Heaven, Holy is Your Name!” People’s attention should always be directed towards God before coming to Him with a prayer list or agenda. Help people to move to a “Not my will but Yours be done” mindset. This will help them to remember that ultimately, His will is more important than our own wants, needs and desires. God still wants to hear us express these, because He loves us…but His purposes are so much bigger! Praying in agreement with God through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is ultimately to step into the throneroom of Heaven whenever we pray.


  1. Be welcoming and give people permission to pray at their own level of comfort – whether out loud or quietly. Don’t put anyone on the spot and don’t have the unrealistic expectation that people are comfortable praying in groups, etc. It’s important that people don’t feel intimidated, but invited!


  1. Plan well! There should be clear leadership and each person walking in should have a good experience with God in community with others. If no one takes the time to develop a focused prayer time but instead just asks what prayer requests people may have, the prayer meeting is doomed to stay small.
  • Start and end on time! If those attending are never sure when the meeting will end, and feel uncomfortable leaving when the stated ending time comes, they won’t put this commitment on their calendar. If you feel the Spirit is keeping you longer than the hour or two you have stated, give those who need to leave a space to do so without guilt! For example, say, “Tonight we are sensing that God may want us to spend more time praying about…. Those who need to leave, please feel free to do so. If anyone wants to stay longer, you are invited to.”
  • When people leave a prayer meeting or experience, they should feel confident that God is already on the move responding to the prayers of His people. Knowing that our prayers are heard and that Heaven is stirred with activity by our kingdom-focused praying is important.


  1. Be intentional about training people in prayer. People will not give themselves to something they feel inadequate or uncertain about. Consider offering some training in prayer that will enhance your congregation’s growth in communicating and communing with God so that those who feel deficient or poorly equipped to be a part of a corporate experience in prayer can begin to grow in their confidence. Sometimes training can be incorporated into your prayer meetings. A concept of prayer can be taught and then the group can practice the concept in real time.


  1. Talk to God, not one another. Talking about prayer isn’t prayer. Sometimes our prayer meetings involve a lot of offering of requests and very little actual prayer time. Unless some teaching/training is part of your prayer meetings or experiences, keep talking to one another at a minimum.


  1. Be sure to give brief, clear instructions when necessary. It’s very important that people always understand what they are supposed to do. For example, if you are breaking people into groups of 3 or 4 at some point during the prayer meeting, make sure they are clear about when and how that will take place. If you are using prayer stations, the instructions can be written down and placed at each station. If people come in late, make sure someone is there to welcome them and quickly fill them in so they don’t feel left out when everyone else is moving around or getting into groups. Feeling uncomfortable is a recipe for not returning.


  1. Pray kingdom-focused prayers: Try to move away from the “sick/hospital” list default model as your only focus and embrace what God is doing!
  • Take stock of what is happening around you…in the culture.
  • Pray what Scripture shows you is on the heart of God…things like unity in the Body of Christ, that we would love one another, praying for workers to be raised up to spread the Gospel, for our leaders and nation, etc.
  • NOTE: It is still very important to pray for those who are sick! We need to get better at it than we are. However, here is a good way to start training people to pray for those who are sick…and add a kingdom component to our prayers.


  1. Mix it up! Don’t do the same thing continually! If what you are doing isn’t working, try something new!
  • Change your theme/topic each meeting because people are passionate about different things.
  • Variety and creativity engages everyone as God has wired us all differently to meet with Him. Use different postures, different modalities (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.).
  • Prayer stations are a very good way to engage people in prayer and is a great way to incorporate the variety and creativity mentioned above.
  • Pray Scripture! People need to learn to pray what is on the heart of God. When we pray God’s word we are always in His will!
  • Get out of the church building! Prayerwalking or prayer-driving around schools, businesses, other churches, neighborhoods, etc. Set up a Drive-Through prayer booth in your church parking lot or another place in town where people can drive through and be prayed for!
  • Embrace Youth and Children! From time to time it is important to bring the younger generations into your times of prayer to learn from and grow with one another in prayer. Make space for the kids and you will be blessed. Plan some prayer meetings that are welcoming for all ages. Prayer stations and prayerwalking are good ways to do this.


  1. Listening and obeying – spend time allowing God to speak to your hearts and DO what He is leading you to do. People need to learn that prayer isn’t all one-sided. We often rush in with our requests and never spend time hearing from God through His Spirit. Perhaps a good way to spend time listening would be to ask at least one question of the Lord. Here are two examples:
  • Lord, thank You for hearing our prayers. Is there anything You want to say to me/us? Perhaps you will hear God telling you how much He loves you and is pleased with the time you have spent in His throneroom. Maybe He will give you a word of encouragement for the whole group, or a picture of what He might be already doing in response to the prayers you have prayed as a community. Of course, you may not sense God saying anything at all…and that is perfectly okay. Taking time to listen ensures that you will not miss something He does want to tell you.
  • Father, would You help us to be the answer to the prayers we just prayed? Then spend a few minutes listening together as a group. Before closing, the leader may ask, “Has anyone heard the Lord expressing anything to your heart?” Perhaps God will direct you to meet a need for those you have specifically been praying for. This could be directed to you individually or as a community. If you have a sense this is from the Lord, obey!


One last suggestion – don’t be concerned about the number of people at the prayer meeting. If you worry about who isn’t there, you won’t be focused on those who are. The prayer movement will grow one person at a time until more start hearing what God is doing. When answers come and as people have good experiences with the Father in prayer and tell others, you will see growth.

As you pray through and incorporate some of these ideas, we fervently pray that your congregation will begin to be more receptive to giving the prayer meeting/prayer experience another try, and that others will be drawn to be a part of what God is up to through the prayers of His people.


Suggested Resource: Here is a powerful resource handbook by David and Kim Butts to take you step by step into the nuts and bolts of becoming a house of prayer for all nations! It is for leaders and lay people alike!


3 Principles of Prayerful Giving

7 Ways to Pray in Difficult Times

I am amazed at the clear insight God granted King David in so many areas, including giving and possessions. In his later years, David gathered everything needed for his son Solomon to build the Temple of God, a place of worship. As you read his heartfelt prayer (and, I suggest, you read all of 1 Chronicles 29 to get the full picture of this extraordinary generosity that was displayed by the people of Israel), we can learn three important principles about generous, prayerful giving.

“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.”

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (1 Chronicles 29:10–17).

  1. Extraordinary generosity comes from the realization that everything we have comes from our great, powerful and majestic God. So few people today understand this, but David nailed it more than 3,000 years ago! It is this understanding of God as the Owner of all things that forms the basis for extraordinary giving…not just of our finances, but also our time and our talents.

Prayer: Father, I recognize that all of my finances, possessions, time and talents come from You alone. Help me to continually remember this! Show me how to hold loosely to all of these things, so that giving them up for Your use is a pleasure and a joy rather than something I dread or do out of guilt or a sense of “duty.” Help me to consider the amount of time I waste each day that could be utilized for Your purposes! Give me a passion for Your kingdom and ideas about how to use my discretionary time. And Lord, please give me wisdom and creativity to use the talents I have to bring honor and glory to You!

  1. Extraordinary leaders give generously by example from willingness and from the integrity of their hearts. King David had insight to know that he needed to lead the way. He could not simply ask others to give without demonstrating his own desire to be generous. David went above and beyond, freely out-giving everyone! His generosity was an encouragement to others.

Prayer: Father, I know I can never out-give You! Show me how to lead those at work/school/in my home/at church, etc. in generous giving whenever there is a kingdom task You direct Your people to step into. May I have the courage and privilege to be extravagant in whatever ways You direct my heart. Use me to help others see how Your people can make a difference in our culture simply by giving in extraordinary ways of their time, talents and finances!

  1. Extraordinary giving is birthed out of joy and a desire to please and worship God. The building of the temple was a joyous process, as the people of Israel knew it was to be a place where the Lord their God would come to dwell. From David’s extravagant worshiping heart came a prayer that God’s people, following his lead, would give beyond their means, their fears and their uncertainties. And give they did! As an act of worship, both rich and poor gave in abundance and with great joy to build the House of God in Jerusalem. They did not give under compulsion or coercion. According to David, generous giving tested their hearts spiritually and revealed “uprightness of heart.”

Prayer: Lord God, help me to become a joyous, worshipful giver in every way. Teach me to expand my heart to embrace Your kingdom with excitement and anticipation as You allow me to have the privilege of serving You as You have created me to be – a generous, talented creation with so much to offer others! When You look at me, may You see only “uprightness of heart” and continue to build me into a house of prayer – the temple that now exists in the world to glorify You and extend Your kingdom to the ends of the earth!

Here is a prayer that incorporates all three of these principles: “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.” Lord God, I believe with all my heart that everything I have comes from You. Help me to live as a good steward of all that comes from Your hand. May my generous giving of time, talent and finances bring pleasure to You. Teach me to give joyously, as an act of worship and gratitude. In the powerful Name above all names, Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen!


This blog has been adapted from The Giving Church by David Butts.

© Harvest Prayer Ministries