When I was 16 years old, I bagged groceries and carried them out for customers. One evening, I met a man in a wheelchair who needed help with his grocery bags. Somehow, we started talking about his son, who was serving our country as a soldier. He explained what he prayed for his son, and I haven’t forgotten it.
“I don’t pray for protection over my son,” he said. “What my son does for a living as a soldier is dangerous. I pray that my son is faithful.” Growing up as a church kid, this rocked my 16-year-old ideas about prayer. Could you, with good intentions, be approaching prayer wrong? If we approached prayer differently, might we get a different result? Here are 4 myths about prayer.
1. Nobody listening.
The feeling that nobody’s listening can be the most difficult myth to get over. If you feel like your prayers aren’t getting higher than the ceiling, it can feel impossible or like a waste of time to pray. If you feel like God isn’t listening, consider learning more about what God says about prayer. We can have confidence knowing 1 John 5:14 says, “…whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
2. I need to know what to say.
If ever there were a myth about praying, it’s that we must pray some highbrow prayer—as if we must not be ourselves when we pray. But we don’t have to know the perfect thing to say. We aren’t trying to poke at God and somehow remind him that we’re here. Remember, talking to God is an awesome thing, but thankfully, we don’t have to be awesome to pray. God knows us, so we can be ourselves and talk to him as the friend he is.
If you’re struggling with what to say in prayer, Matthew 6:9–13 says,
“You should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
When you don’t know what to pray, use this prayer to guide you. Simply praise God for who he is, consider all he’s done for you, ask forgiveness and offer forgiveness to others, and ask God to help you through any situations or issues you’re currently facing.
3. Praying is boring.
Prayer is boring because we feel the need to put on a production—or that we even have to speak. But that’s not what God is looking for from us. What God wants is for us to pour our hearts out to him. He already knows our thoughts. Sharing those thoughts anyway is agreeing with him and seeking wisdom that comes only from him. If you want your prayer life to come alive, just tell God what you’re thinking. If you feel awkward, tell God. Do you feel unhappy, angry, grateful? Whatever you feel. say it or write it down and give your thoughts, mind, and, ultimately, your actions to him.
Praying is boring if you’re not being yourself. So tell God what’s important to you right now. When I think back to my prayers over the years, my prayers were boring because they were often selfish. Pray using the ACTS method to guide you when prayer feels boring. It’s a system of praying that helps you make it about God and others rather than only yourself: ACTS is A-adoration, C-confession, T-thanksgiving, and S-supplication. The idea is to spend time praising God for who he is, confessing wrongdoing that keeps you from a right relationship with him, thanking God for what he’s done in your life, and praying for others.
4. I’m too busy to pray.Consider all the tasks you complete in a day and then ask yourself if they are all more important than prayer.
We wrongly think our schedules won’t somehow fit our prayer time. This says a lot about how important, or not, we hold prayer. Mother Teresa said, “If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy.” Jesus had a hectic schedule. But we know that before he faced his day, he carved out time to get alone and pray to his father. There were times he went to God scared and wanting a different direction. He laid out his thoughts to his father and took time to listen to what his father said.
Guard your time and schedule so you make prayer a priority. You are not too busy to pray. If you find yourself not praying, it’s more likely because you don’t consider prayer a priority. Consider all the tasks you complete in a day and then ask yourself if they are all more important than prayer.
Sound off: How do you feel when you pray?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who or what should we pray for today?”