Most Christians admit that they don’t pray enough. This is mostly because it seems weird, people don’t know how to do it, and there is a plethora of conflicting advice about it.
The Bible actually never details how much time a person should pray, other than “Pray without ceasing.” When we are told to do something without ceasing, this can’t help but make us feel like a failure when we inevitably cease.
The Church has not done much to help people feel more comfortable with prayer. In fact, the Church seems to only hurt.
I know one pastor who repeatedly brags about how much he prays and how great he is because one night his son came into the kitchen at 3 a.m. and found him praying. “Do your kids catch you praying?”
Unfortunately, this makes people feel like the only good prayer is a prayer at an inconvenient hour when someone is watching.
The Church has also taken up the tactic that prayer is a tool to manipulate God. You have to put the time in, the sincerity, the emotion, the energy and zeal to convince God enough to hear you.
Certainly there are instances in the Bible where people used emotion, zeal, and passion in prayer and were heard–Hannah’s prayer for a son at the temple, for instance. There were many times they were not heard despite emotion–David mourning to God when his son was going to die, for instance.
Every believer should have prayers of emotion from time to time. But to think you have to be worked up in order for God to hear you is not a biblical notion.
Yes, persistence is noted as a way to be heard–parable of the persistent widow. At the same time we are warned not to use vain repetition. Repetition is no guarantee of being heard.
You can repeat things in prayer if you mean it every time. But repeating words for the sake of repeating words is vain.
Many believe that if they don’t pray before an event, something horrible will happen in that event. If I don’t pray before leaving for work, something horrible will happen at work kind of thing.
As a pastor, I will confess to feeling I should pray more on Saturdays so my message on Sunday goes better. I don’t pray on Sundays for my Mondays as much as I pray for my Sundays on a Saturday.
This is not prayer to God as much as it is hoping I rub the bottle enough to get the genie to do my bidding. This turns prayer into a lucky rabbit’s foot.
I have also wondered, when the Bible says not to take any thought for tomorrow, if I should even pray for tomorrow! Lately I have just prayed for today. On Saturdays I pray that I use my Saturdays well enough to be ready for Sunday instead of worrying about Sunday.
I don’t know if this theory is correct, but I’ve been doing this for a while now and have found it to be a releasing relief! It’s been working for me.
In the end, pray. That’s it. Just pray. God wants to hear from you. Your Creator and Savior wants you to talk to Him. This is a mind-blowing concept. I suggest we find the coolness in this and enjoy it.
No guilt. No superstition. No manipulation. No testing. Just talk to God.