4 Things Prayer Is Not

Thursday, May 7, 2015

prayer hands
Prayer is not a complicated thing. I think there is a tendency to make prayer something that it was not intended to be. I've heard countless sermons on the subject in my lifetime and have even attended prayer conferences to learn how to pray. These are all good, but I wonder if somehow we lose sight of the simplicity of prayer that Jesus taught. Jesus' teaching on prayer in Matthew 6 includes how we are not to pray and then how we should pray. Let me share a few thoughts about what prayer is not.

#1 - Prayer is not meant to move God but to move us.
God's will is sovereign and simply praying a prayer will not cause him to change his mind. If prayer becomes merely a method to get God to do something we want him to do, we have lost sight of what prayer is really all about. The reality is that prayer is meant to change US, not God. As we pray, if we are not being moved by God to change, then it is not prayer. We are to pray His will be done, not ours.

#2 - Prayer is not how we get God's attention but how he gets ours.
We already have his full attention and in fact, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us 24/7. Prayer is God's design to capture our attention and focus it on him and his will. The result of prayer must be that the focus is taken off of us and put solely upon the Father. 

#3 - Prayer is not designed to elevate us but to lower us.
God is not impressed by how we pray and he warns us not to try and impress other people by how well we pray. What impresses our Father the most is not our eloquence, but rather our humility. Prayer in the truest sense exalts God and lowers us. Too often we get this backwards and use prayer as a way to elevate ourselves in the eyes of God and each other. This is not prayer.

#4 - Prayer is not an annual holiday but makes every day a "holy day."
Please understand me here. I am NOT saying we shouldn't observe a National Day of Prayer. We should and I'm thankful we set aside a day of prayer. What I am saying is this - if prayer is limited to one day a year then it is not prayer. It is just a religious ritual. The National Day of Prayer only has real meaning if we actually pray every day of the year. Prayer is like the heart to the human body. It is what keeps us alive and it keeps pumping every second. If it ever stops, we die. Likewise, prayer must be on-going in the life of the believer. This is why we are commanded to "pray without ceasing."

May our prayer today be that our heartbeat would be a lifestyle of prayer. As we do, may our hearts be moved by him. May he capture our full attention and may we humble ourselves before him. May your kingdom come, God, and may your will be done on earth today as it is in heaven.
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