No Buts About It {How My Prayers Have Changed Pt. 2}

This is the second post in my James Prayer series — on how my prayers have changed. You may read the first post HERE.

My elbows dug into my knees, palms firmly planted on my chin. And I rocked slowly, trying to soothe my pounding chest as I searched for words. I have no idea how much time fled as I started over and over, determined to get it right…I realized then I was doing exactly what the verses warned me about. Finally, I relented and told Him outright:

Lord, I don’t even know how to pray…I know how to praise and thank You, but I don’t know how to bring my worries to You. Because they seem to bubble with doubt…

It stung as it rolled off my tongue. I’ve considered myself a prayer for years, with prayer journals to prove it. And here I sat on this moonless night realizing I’ve completely lost my way, drifting off to sea.

I’d become a “But Christian”.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1:5-8

For how many times have I said

“Lord, please heal _____, but if it’s not Your will…”
“Father, help me _____, but if You have other plans…”

Oh mylanta, I’m as wishy-washy as they come. How can He even look at me let alone listen…

I opened my Bible, hoping I missed something. Where does it say how to believe firmly when you know not every prayer gets answered with hoped-for results? How do you decipher between needs and wants? Do I admit how big of a deal these things are to me when in the grand scheme of grace, they are so very small?

Then I saw it…how I’ve been complicating prayer all these years. How I’ve tried to act double-minded, like I can read His mind, how I’ve presented pleas instead of just presenting myself.

  • I’ve asked for solutions and not answers.
  • I’ve treated Him like a taskmaster — focusing more on the gifts than the Giver.
  • I’ve acted as if I know better…and then tried to cover it up with a ‘but’…

James shows us how to get our buts out-of-the-way. What to ask when we’re deep in need: Wisdom. Ask for His wisdom. Every time.

And he even promises…God gives that out generously to all (vs. 5). I have no reason to doubt His will in this regard.

Solomon knew it–all one really needs to get through this world that’s not our home is wisdom. Intimate life-knowledge. And He is the Bread of Life. He is the source of wisdom we all seek. He is all we need.

If I want to gain life-knowledge, I need to know the One Who Is…I need to see Him.

Doubt holds no weight when all we seek is to know Him. When all we ask for is what He’s promised to always freely give.

So when trouble comes and I’m grasping for a way out, I can pray:

“Father, I’m sinking, yet You’ve never let me go… Here, You take this ____. Give me wisdom, Lord, so I can see You and know You’ve got this. Show me how You want me to respond. For I know and believe fully–You are all I need.”

When cancer/illness plagues someone who owns a piece of my heart, I can pray:

“God, You are bigger than this cancer cell. Let us see You, Lord, right here right now. Rest Your healing hands upon ___ and overwhelm them with Your comfort. Peace. Gives us eyes of wisdom, Father, so we can watch Your glory unfold and know You’ve got us in the palm of Your hand. We’re right where we need to be.”

I go through my prayer list and put it to practice as I seek this intimate life-knowledge He freely gives. And smile wide as I realize…there are no buts about it.

My back straightens as I pick up pace. My shoulders relax as I chat easily with my Creator. And for the first time in my tenure of claiming His name, I can pray with confidence and know He’s heard me when I call.

How about you, friend? Do you ask for wisdom when you pray? How do you tackle those areas we so desperately want to go a certain way? I’d love to hear.

P.S. I’m just getting started with what I’ve learned from the Book of James lately. I hope you’ll stick around. You can catch up on other posts HERE.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


22 thoughts on “No Buts About It {How My Prayers Have Changed Pt. 2}

  1. Oh… Those “but’s” in prayer. They speak doubt without us even realizing! I think this is the same as the word “just”. I use that one all too often. And it puts our big God in a small box. “Lord if you would just…” “God, please, just…” Those prayers are full of doubt too. Do I really think God wants to answer my prayers with the least amount of effort on His part? To barely come through for me? Because that’s what “just” implies. I think the answer is no. God wants to show Himself in powerful and mighty ways. So I’ve been trying to cut that word from my prayers.

    God bless you today Nikki!

    • Oh — the JUST! I use that word a lot, too, I’m sure…oh my. Thank you for that, Sarah. Yes, there’s no limit to how far He’ll go for me–I don’t want to say otherwise… {HUGS}

  2. I love James and just finished Beth Moore’s “Mercy Triumphs” study with my neighborhood group. My favorite prayer is always, “You know, Lord.” A lot of power in those few words.

  3. How wonderful that you offer these examples of prayer, Nikki! There is, as you say but ONE POWER; God. When we recognize that ANY+thing other than that which demonstrates God’s divine nature is but an illusion we find peace. You, my dear Nikki, are that peace. I love resting here, In Him, with you.

  4. I have gotten so worried about praying the “right” way in the past, that I’ve become paralyzed. LOVE your pointing to wisdom and your specific examples of prayer. I’m also grateful that the Spirit can understanding my groans when I have no words. Xoxoxo.

    • It’s in those groans He hears us best, don’t you think? For we don’t let anything else stand in the way! we bring all we have…and sometimes, yes, all we have is a groan from deep within…
      love and hugs to you, friend!

  5. yes, praying for wisdom; thank you for sharing your heart…I heard a sermon once by Chip Ingram, if I recall on that verse in James, and he said the “Without doubting” part was about our willingness to believe and do what God shows us to do when we ask for wisdom even if it doesn’t make sense to us…hope that wasn’t too confusing…praying God is with your loved one dealing with hard…hugs to you 🙂

    • That’s not confusing at all, Dolly. And thank you so much for sharing that with me. I’ve read a commentary similar and I do think I’m good with that — I just forget the asking for wisdom part… but I am more than willing to believe. So glad He’s not finished with me yet;)

  6. Dear Nikki
    At times when my mind is so clouded by Fibrofog and I cannot even think two straight thoughts in a row, I just sigh in His presence with a , “Pappa, you know; You know all!”. Nikki, I talk to Pappa like I talk to my husband and children, plainly and with lots of respect and love.
    I talk about everything (the good, the bad and the ugly) and He talks back to me. I have found that childlikeness brings joy to His heart.
    Blessings to you, my friend

  7. Nikki, Your words pierce. I find myself wondering if there are moments of grace in my prayers that I’m not even aware of – where the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf. I hear those groanings – I even think they are mine, sometimes. But… that word feels differently being “said” aloud right now. I so needed your reminder to take them all, take every inch of us – doubts and all – and just lay at his feet with it – expectantly. Big hugs, friend!

  8. Amen and Amen sweet friend. How hard it is to not let the *buts* escape in prayer, but letting go and trusting in His plan is so freeing!! Praising Him in all things with you.

  9. One of the first things I learned on this faith journey of mine is to pray with expectation. It doesn’t mean I’ll always get what I expect. Sometimes God surprises me with something better. But even when He doesn’t, He seems to always give me wisdom to eventually understand. Loved this, Nikki! 🙂

  10. I have been really working on the trust, as well. It is so difficult, isn’t it? I keep trying to picture myself as a child when I speak to God, being reassured of His parental love and concern. But just like a child, I always seem to think that I know best and want to ask for things (the ‘buts’) on my terms. But, He understands and loves us nonetheless. 🙂

  11. good words sweet girl! i find that prayer is difficult at times for me. one part of me knows that i don’t even need words, while the other part stumbles and stutters through it.
    thanks for this post!

  12. Oh Nikki girl, thank you. I have a strong feeling that the great Spirit of our God is going to add this and use it to confirm and encourage me towards faith filled prayers. I’ve missed you lately girl! I’m glad to be back at whatever capacity I’m able. 😉 ~ Love out to you today all the way from Maine sister, Amy

  13. Nikki! Once again God has worked it so that I am reading your post when I am right in the middle of a struggle. I’ve been feeling this so heavy lately and it’s got me feeling frozen in my prayer life. I love your explanation and your examples!

    James is my favorite book, I was so excited to see you doing a series on it. 🙂

    Thank you for your insight and your faithfulness! It is a blessing, you are a blessing, friend!

  14. Pingback: Giving Your Buts the Boot - The Watered Soul

I can't wait to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s