“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
There is incredible power and potential in prayer. Through prayer, we invite the God of the universe into a situation and into our lives. Prayer changes things, but even more prayer changes us. Through prayer, we have the opportunity to reach our full potential in Christ. As we grow in our prayer life, we become more alive and more engaged with what God is doing. None of us are perfect at prayer, but as we take steps to grow spiritually in our prayer life, the impact is incredible. But there are some misconceptions about prayer.
For example, some people view prayer as a monologue, a one-way conversation. Like all communication, prayer goes both ways. It is a two-way conversation that requires listening even more than talking. You need help, guidance, protection, and favor. You need these things and so you go to God asking for those things. But you are doing all the talking. When you stop to listen, you’ll find God wants to talk to you, too. He may do it in a variety of ways: by reminding you of a Bible verse or the lyrics of a song, by bringing to mind a message you’ve heard, by placing a thought in your mind that lines up with Scripture, or maybe just by surrounding you with the peace that passes all understanding. Prayer is supposed to be a conversation, not a monologue. So if we don’t make those intentional moments of giving God space to act, we forget we’re in a conversation. We forget that God wants a relationship, not just prayers said at Him, but prayer as an encounter with Him.
Another misconception is prayer requires a lot of great-sounding “spiritual” words. Not true. God loves childlike faith, so He welcomes and cherishes all prayers. Remember, He is looking at your heart, not at the quality of your vocabulary. You don’t have to convince God of what you need. He already knows. Just go to Him as simply, honestly, and humbly as you can, and talk about what you need. Don’t use prayer to show off. Instead, be sincere. Don’t spout off clichés. Don’t add in fillers because you’re afraid your prayers are too short. Talk to God like you would to a loved one or a good friend.
Another misconception is that prayer is boring. It can seem that way if you treat prayer like it’s a task – just something to check off your list of to-dos. Christians run the risk of prayer seeming like something ordinary because we’ve heard about it so often. Our familiarity with the idea of God loving us can prevent us from grasping how amazing prayer is. Somehow, God has an invested interest in our moods, thoughts, and life events. He cares about even those insignificant things. And to show the greatness of His love, God actually wants us to ask Him for things. To put this in perspective, this is the King of Kings who doesn’t need anything from us. On the contrary, He has every right to only ask for things from us, but who listens intently to each request no matter how small and delights in responding to them. The truth is that prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit is so exciting because you never know what new things God will reveal to you in prayer or what/who He puts on your heart to pray for, or how He will answer your prayer. That doesn’t sound very boring.
- How do you know when prayer is a one-way conversation?
- Why is it so important to be simple and sincere in prayer?
- Do you think prayer is boring? If so, how do you change that?