Summary: I hope that you can see that if some of those things we just talked about are true, prayer becomes something that we may not want to do.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PRAYER
READ MATTHEW 6:7-8 (ESV) [READ TOGETHER ALOUD]
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Prayer is communication with God in Jesus’ Name by the power of the Holy Spirit.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PRAYER… https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-10-misconceptions-of-prayer [adapted]
When it comes to the topic of prayer, you and I have ideas about prayer that may or may not be true. Our ideas about prayer just kind of sneak into our minds and hearts and we may not even realize that what we believe or what we do is correct or incorrect. The reason why I’d like to begin today talking about these misconceptions, is because Matthew 6:7-8 speaks to one of them and having the wrong idea about prayer may discourage us from praying!
What are some misconceptions?
#1 Prayer is a one-way street.
We often talk to God like He's a wall or like we are in an empty room. We have the tendency to just talk and talk and talk… which is fine… but we need to make time to be still and let God speak to us as well. Take time to be still. God wants to give us advice and directions. He wants to encourage us.
It might be helpful to pray with our Bible open and also to think about ourselves entering the throne room of God each time we pray.
#2 God only listens to us when we have been good.
God is a Perfect Holy God. That is 100% true. It is also 100% true that God also desired to communicate with us even while we were sinners. He still desires that. Jesus Christ came so that the sin that separates us from God is washed away clean and we can approach God boldly and confidently knowing that we can have a relationship with Him regardless of what we have done. God hears us even when we are sinful.
#3 Prayer only works when you take action too, for God helps those who help themselves.
God empowers the weak. God makes strengths out of our weaknesses. There are problems and people and situations that we are powerless to overcome, but that is why we rely on our Heavenly Father. We can ask God for help. We can ask God to change our hearts. God is our ever present Heavenly Father Who will not forget us or forsake us.
#4 Prayers need to sound like begging.
If this were true, then God would only answer our prayers if we act desperate enough. We do not find that in any Scripture. There will be times that we are desperate and plead with God, but not all prayers are that way. Hebrews 4 describes coming with confidence before God in prayer. Pray humbly, but powerfully knowing that God hears and answers. God loves prayers that are prayed out of faith and a great expectation that He will do His will. He wants us to come before Him already knowing that He is listening to us. Prayer is not a beg session like we are on a street corner. Jesus says to just ask Him, believing that we have already received what we have prayed for.
It might be helpful to begin our prayers with telling God how great He is (adoration) and prayers of thanks to Him instead of just starting with things we need.
#5 Prayers get answered right away or not at all.
A prayer delayed is not necessarily a prayer denied or a “no.” You might not see any visible results quickly, but part of prayer and being a person of faith means we know that God is working actively behind the scenes on our behalf. We pray and wait on God's timing. We pray and do so for His will for He knows what He is doing.
It might be helpful to keep a prayer journal where you write down the people, situations, and issues you pray over so you can make notes about what God is doing in each of them.
#6 We need key Christian words to make our prayers work.
God loves all prayer. Our Father in Heaven is looking at our hearts and the faith that we have in Him. God does not require certain rehearsed prayers or ‘thee to speaketh in a certain wayeth when thou prays.’ He does not require fancy language. Believe it or not, sometimes prayer does not even have words… but prayer is at times silently waiting in His presence. There might be times when we are too sad and too burdened to say anything. Sitting in the presence of God is prayer. God knows our hearts. He sees us in every moment of our lives.