There are a lot of myths out there about prayer that really hold people back. These myths keep people from experiencing the real power and presence of God while praying. Here are the top five that I see.
1. Along-the-Way Prayers Are Enough
It has been said that hurry is the death of prayer and that’s certainly true. Along-the-way prayers (ATWP) are an essential part of any prayer diet but there needs to be a lot more going on too.
ATWP are snacks and there’s nothing wrong with a good snack. Sometimes a snack can make all the difference when you’re on the go and your blood sugar is low. However, you don’t want to go through life just eating snacks. You need solid meals in your life and you need solid prayer meals/times in your life too. To make this happen, schedule regular, intentional times of prayer in your life.
2. Prayer is a Monologue
All too often we think the goal of prayer is to say everything on our minds or to fill the silence with our words. Obviously sharing with God what’s on our hearts is a huge part of prayer but it’s not the only part. We must be sure to listen as much as we speak. We must be intentional about having periods where we allow God the time, space and attention necessary to respond to us.
Prayer is meant to be a dialogue and when we allow it to move in that direction it becomes so much more fulfilling. When prayer is just a monologue it inevitably becomes monotonous and a chore. We must listen, really listen, to enjoy prayer as it was meant to be enjoyed.
3. Catch All Prayers are Clever Prayer Tools
Often, people will pray catch phrases like “Bless everyone, Lord” or “Bless my family, Father” and, while there’s nothing wrong with those sorts of requests, it’s sure hard to know if God answers them or not. Vague prayers might sound good but all too often they’re too vague to be powerful. Specific prayers are powerful prayers. Ask God in as much detail as you can about the things that really matter to you.
This will have two huge effects. First, it will help you clarify in your mind what you’re really asking from God. (This tends to increase our insight and understanding of problems and people.) Second, you’ll truly know when God answered the prayer which will strengthen and encourage your faith. Plus, it’s just exciting too!
4. Prayer is for the Prayerfessionals
My experience is that most people feel intimidated when it comes to prayer. Everyone prays at some point but most people feel like they must not be doing it “right” or that others seem to be so much better at it. This leads to frustration and a tendency to abandon prayer until a time of crisis arises.
At it’s heart, prayer is a customized product. Prayer is just talking to God as your friend and Lord. How you talk to your friends is your business and it’s certainly a highly personalized thing. I think the worst thing I’ve ever done in my prayer times is to try to be someone else or something I’m not. You’re not fooling God. All He wants is for you to be authentic and to talk with Him.
Prayer, even powerful prayer, isn’t reserved for a select group of prayerfessionals. Prayer is for everyone.
5. The Right Words are Critical
Prayer is not about having a certain set of words or a prescribed set of sayings. It’s not an incantation or a spell. It’s you talking to a friend that’s very interested in hearing what you have to say. You’re talking to the best, kindest, most giving friend you could ever imagine and you’re ask Him to hear you, understand you, give His input back to you, and supernaturally help out. It’s not about making a presentation where everything has to be perfect. It’s really all about the attitude of your heart.
Some people are paralyzed when it comes to prayer because they are overly concerned about what they’re going to say or how they’re going to say it. Just start talking. Just share what’s on your mind and your heart. God’s not grading your grammar. He’s listening to you with loving, attentive ears.
Don’t let these myths rob you of the prayer life that you were meant to have.