If you or someone you love is facing difficult times, know that a prayer for encouragement can help. Through prayer, God can work miracles and use us for His glory on Earth by encouraging us in moments when we feel down and out. After all, God wants us to prosper and be well, and to give us hope for the future. Though the Bible tells us “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9), there are times when it can be hard to rally, and God’s intervention is needed. This is what makes a prayer for encouragement so important to our journey as Christians.

When life seems particularly hard, we may find it easy to question God or feel like things will never get easier. These are the moments when we need to rest assured that our faith will guide us in the right direction, and to pray for encouragement during these difficult times.

What does it mean to say a prayer for encouragement?

First of all, what does the word “encouragement” actually mean? According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word encouragement means “to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, or strength of mind, to embolden, to incite, to inspirit.” When we say a prayer for encouragement, we are asking God to embolden us, to give us confidence in Him, and to give us strength of mind that His will and goodness will prevail.

We seek encouragement it is human nature to doubt, wander, or get lost along the way as we travel through life. In these moments, the enemy will try to make us lose confidence in Christ. It is during these times that we need prayerful encouragement, and to be reminded through Scripture of the promises of our Lord. Remember what is written in Isaiah (42:1-3) and the promises of Jesus’ spiritual power: “I have put my spirit upon him…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.”

When to say a prayer for encouragement?

Do you ever feel like a “bruised reed”, or like the light at the end of your wick is only faintly burning? Everyone experiences moments like these, when we feel a little fragile or very nearly “burnt out”. Even if you haven’t personally experienced such a time, certainly your loved ones have. If you want to say a prayer for encouragement for someone close to you, it’s important to recognize when someone may need some extra encouragement.

Here are some moments during which we may really need prayers for encouragement:

  • – When we feel fragile due to criticism, rejection, or simply the hard moments of life
  • – During grief or depression
  • – When we feel overwhelmed
  • – When we lack confidence in ourselves
  • – In times of difficult decision-making
  • – If we feel emotionally “out of gas”
  • – When we begin to doubt our faith in the Lord

God wants to see us through the hard times and is waiting for us to call upon Him through prayer for encouragement. When we pray for encouragement, we are reminded of the source and strength of our faith, giving us hope for stronger days ahead.

Does God answer prayers for encouragement? 

When we are in a season of needing encouragement, it can be particularly easy to begin to lose faith and begin doubt that God is listening to our prayers at all. When our faith and strength dwindle to just a spark, instead of feeling discouraged by lack of flame, remember that the Lord will not extinguish your spark. Say a prayer for encouragement and take heart that God will fan the spark into a flame.

It might seem that a prayer for encouragement is about asking God to help alleviate the trials of life and restore our faith. When we pray for encouragement, it may be because we are looking for God to automatically instill us with the confidence that we lack. However, the encouragement that God supplies in answer to our prayers is different than that. When we say a prayer for encouragement, what we are actually asking God to do is strengthen our faith in Him so that we may better trust His promises. This may not result in being able to escape a trying time, but rather being able to endure it gracefully and with peace that we are not alone, and that are struggles are part of God’s larger plan for us. Our faith during times of great discouragement may then prove to be an encouragement to others, thereby being used for His glory in a way that we did not yet understand at the time.

When God does begin to answer our prayers for encouragement, there are a few things that begin to happen:

  • – We learn to keep the faith in times of waiting: When waiting for God to answer prayers of encouragement, we first and foremost have to believe that He will answer. “But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7).
  • – We remember that answered prayers come in God’s time: Feeling discouraged is uncomfortable and it’s only natural to want uncomfortable feelings to pass as quickly as possible. But God’s plans for us will only happen according to His timeline – not ours. Find encouragement in the fact that He will answer you.
  • – We begin to praise God for the blessings around us: While you are waiting for God to answer your prayer of encouragement, take stock of your blessings. Look around you and thank God for the gift of life, or the gifts of sight and hearing.

During moments of discouragement, continue to thank God for the lessons to be found in your times of trial. Keep a prayer journal to remind yourself to continue to pray faithfully, and remember that even in difficult moments, God will never abandon us.