We just read a one-page devotion about all the things we do not need to pray about, yet we spend and waste our time doing so! It was an interesting read and made me remember a story I heard years ago about a man that said God told him to leave his wife. It wasn’t due to infidelity or any divorce-worthy cause, but just that he prayed and God told him to go. I was shocked and saddened to hear such a misuse of prayer and misunderstanding of the privilege and honor it is to pray. And what a misrepresentation of who God is!
Prayer is to be done according to His will, not ours, and when we start praying and considering and even “hearing” answers that are completely contrary to who God is, we’re in a heap of trouble, a drowning sea, and a storm that just might kill.
So just what are these things we sometimes pray about that we need to discard?
Don’t pray about being kind. If there’s a person that bugs the heck out of us, we are wasting our time if we’re praying about ways we can shun them or get rid of them. A better way to pray would be for God to change our hearts toward them, and heal whatever is ailing them…
Don’t pray for answers to sinful desires. Some folks put out fleeces (God if you’ll do this…I’ll do that) and while those may work on rare occasions – they’re dangerous. Often we use them get our way, which is contrary to His way. Praying for a “sign” that we’re supposed to move forward with a relationship that is less than godly is a waste of His time and ours.
Don’t pray for provision if you’re not willing to steward it. Yikes. We pray for a new home, a big car, and kiddos and a family…and then we want God to provide all the funds to pay for and take care of them, while we sit and do nothing. We’re supposed to work, steward what we have, give thanks, and not hoard or buy what we can’t afford. It’s that simple.
Don’t pray without position. There’s a reason the Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father in heaven…” Positioning ourselves as his children, acknowledging his position where he can see all and know all is HUGE in prayer. When we fail to do this, we often spend our time begging and pleading and wondering and worrying while we pray. And we only end up exhausted.
Don’t pray with formulas. Prayer is not a magic potion where if we say the right combo of words, snap our fingers and open our eyes – there the answer appears like a genie out of a bottle – ready to grant us three wishes. Prayer is all about relationship, and relationship only happens when we read his Word that tells us who he is, and then prayer becomes powerful. And quite enjoyable…
Don’t pray and refuse to listen. Often, our prayers are full of wailing and wanting, chatting and commanding God to act on our behalf or in the lives of others. If we do all the talking and never listen to his voice, we’ve missed out on the answer already! He does speak to us through his creation, through the voices of those that love Him, through his word, and in love and peace. Listen, next time you pray.
Don’t pray with honoring lips and removed hearts. Ouch. This is when we speak lofty words of praise because others are listening, or we think we pray “so well,” but we’re completely hating or angry with the person in the other room. Make peace with that person, repent for your own wrongdoing, then get back to praying. And start with thanksgiving for his forgiveness.
Sometimes, we don’t even need to pray at all. We just need to acknowledge God and trust. That, often, is the biggest and most effective way to pray and find peace that passes all understanding.