Do you feel that your prayers are lacking?
Do you find yourself praying the same things over and over again in dull routine? Is prayer the one part of your spiritual life that gets very little attention? If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place.
My goal today is to help you improve upon your ability to communicate with The Lord.
While it may seem that prayer should come easily, it can be quite difficult for many Christians to know how to talk to God. As much as I hate to admit, I have personally struggled with this in my own life.
In my younger years I was not exactly a shining example of a healthy prayer life….in fact, you could say I was a perfect example of how not to pray! Here I was, a young girl who loved to read her bible, go to church, sing songs of praise throughout the day…yet when it came to my prayers, they were short, shallow, and shoddy. I cringe just thinking of them.
Every night before bed, my teenage self would pray something to this effect:
“Dear Father – Thank you for this day. Thank you for your blessings. Be with my family and friends. Be with those who are sick. Forgive me of my sins. I love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen”
Let’s be real: a prayer like that just downright stinks. It’s impersonal, it’s demanding…it has no depth. Of course I can be rather critical, because I’m speaking of words that came from my own mouth. Yet to this day I am saddened to see many adults (who should be mature in the faith) who have not grown past similar immaturity in their prayers.
Ladies, if you struggle in this area, don’t be discouraged! Like anything, our prayer lives can be refined to full potential through knowledge, determination, and practice.
Is it our desire to be a sweet savor unto our Lord? Do we want our words to be a delight to Him? Then first we will need to filter out some bad prayer habits that are a hindrance.
Let’s consider the three most common errors made concerning communication with God:
Error # 1: Prayer Slacking
It should be obvious that this is the biggest problem one can face with prayer: not praying at all! This negligence is more common than one might think – but why? What excuse do we have not to pray? We are more than able.
A blind man may not be able to see, a deaf man may not be able to hear, and a mute man may not be able to speak…yet every single one of these can still effectively communicate with their Maker. No infirmity prevents us; no obstacle is in the way, save our own obstinate will.
Beware…the longer we spend avoiding prayer, the easier it gets. Before long we rarely pray – if ever! Yet by the same token, the more we pray the more natural it becomes. They say old habits die hard – well so do good ones!
Once we take a step in the right direction and set aside time each day for prayer it will not only become habitual, but most enjoyable and a time that we look forward to.
Christian women don’t slack on prayer. We pray often.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:8
Error # 2: Prayer Slimming
Many Christians pray daily, but haphazardly.
While the frequency of praying is there, the occasion lacks real sincerity. Instead of having heartfelt conversations with the Lord, they form a habit of saying rote prayers of their own making. The idea is, “I pray because I know it’s right, but I make it as quick and convenient for myself as possible.”
This reminds me of the prayers I offered God as a teenager. Not much thought went into what I was saying, and I rushed through the words so I could get some shut-eye. Is this kind of attitude God-serving or self-serving? Of course it is the latter.
It is simply not glorifying to God when we put the majority of our efforts into other activities and give Him the scraps. We would do well to remember that He is our KING! This means He is to be first priority in our lives.
Sisters, praying is really a small sacrifice to give to the One who redeemed and purchased us with His own blood! If we can’t muster up the energy to pray to Him then I believe we have a real heart problem. Perhaps it is that we don’t really believe He is as real or as good as we proclaim. If we did, we would spend so much more time in His presence than we do.
Christian women don’t slim down prayers. We give God our best. (Not to mention that when we give God our best, we too are blessed!)
“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10
Error # 3: Prayer Slanting
Some pray frequently, some pray fervently, but they pray without understanding. They pray for what seems right to them, but ignorantly they pray outside of God’s will. One example I see quite often is when individuals ask God to heal “so-and-so” or to bless “so-and-so” without stopping to think that it may be outside of God’s authority.
Consider these three strong passages from the book of Jeremiah:
“Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 7:16-17
“Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.” Jeremiah 14:11-12
“Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.” Jeremiah 11:14
I firmly believe that we ought to take more caution in what we boldly ask God to do. It is folly to ask God to heal someone or bless them when perhaps He is afflicting them for their own well-being.
Perhaps the hardship a Christian is going through is meant to sharpen them. Would we do well to ask God to take it away from them when it is for a purpose? That worldly person that is stricken with cancer – would we do well to ask God to heal them so that they might so conveniently go back to a life void of Him?
Rather we ought to pray that sickness, disease, affliction and the like would cause people to turn their hearts to God. It is in vain for a person to be healed just for healing’s sake. We can and should have compassion for people. However, that does not mean we overstep our boundaries and petition God to take away what He very well may have ordained.
If and when we do pray for God’s healing over individuals (especially those outside the Faith) we need to make sure that we are willing to use the experience to lead them to Christ, else the healing be for naught.
Christian women don’t slant their prayers. We pray with discernment.
“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.” 1 Samuel 12:23-25
Bottom line: Pray. Pray often, pray genuinely, pray wisely. Don’t forget about the Father, don’t give Him scraps and don’t pretend you are His boss.
It all comes down to honor. Do we honor God? The more we respect and adore our great and mighty King, the easier it becomes to talk with Him. Praying is meant to be a sweet savor unto the Lord. It is also meant to change us.
Pray with humility. Pray with fervency. Pray with adoration… and for crying out loud, don’t pray with a case of the “gimme’s.”
Girls, it takes practice to form savory prayers. It is a process that may not happen overnight, and God knows your sincerity! He is gracious to us in our immaturity. He wants to hear from you, and He expects you to offer Him your best.
Where you are weak in this area, He is strong (Romans 8:26). My intent is not to make anyone feel foolish or that their prayers are not good enough, but rather to encourage each of you to examine your prayer life. I did, and my relationship with the Lord has grown so much as a result. I want to see the same for you.
God bless, and take a chill pill!
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.