6 Mistakes to Avoid When Praying


1.Only praying when we need something.If we are praying continually, we are able to develop our relationship with God so that we take everything to him, every part of our day and every thought of our day can be part of a continual conversation with God. It takes time to get used to this, and to develop it as a habit, but it’s so worth it. If we only turn to God when we need something, it’s like asking a giant favour from a stranger, why would you have faith in him to listen if you don’t know who he is?

2. Drawing attention to ourselves. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, talked about prayer to the people that had gathered. The key points he pulled out here were to not pray for the attention of others, and not to use our prayers to show off to others or to achieve a certain standard of prayer. A lady at my church put it quite well recently as she said that if we focus so much on the other people listening to our prayers, we end up praying to them rather than to God. Prayer doesn’t need to be dramatic, it’s a personal relationship.

3.Making demands.We know that with God, all things are possible. However, this does not mean that all of our prayers will be answered in the way that we expect, or in the way that we want. We need to know and trust that God knows far better than we ever could.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts

Isaiah 55:8-9

Whilst we can bring any situation before God in prayer, we need to approach God from a position of humility and trust that God’s will is best and that we will be obedient to him no matter how he answers our prayers.

Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, showed us how this is done:

4.Believing that God cannot answer our prayers. Following on nicely from my previous point, we need to be careful that whilst we understand that God knows best, we don’t stop believing in his ability to actually answer our prayers. We are called to pray in faith, and God has shown us so many examples of his power within the Bible: power to heal, power to provide, power to comfort, power to raise people from the dead. Surely this is enough to demonstrate just why we can have faith in his power.

5.Comparing our prayers to others. Each person should feel able to pray out in the way that allows them to express their prayers best to God. As we said before, we should be praying to God, not to other people. It is God that we are talking to, and him we should be focused upon. Praying out loud does take some time to get used to (I have a whole blog about it here), but when you have the opportunity to do it, keep your mind focused upon what you are saying to God, not how others may perceive your prayers.

6. Praying to anyone other than God.As Christians, we believe in one true God: The God of the Bible. He is the only one that we should be calling upon to answer our prayers, because he is the one that is working for our good, he is the one through whom all things are possible, he is the one is which we should place our hope.

Often, we hear people calling upon he universet, or nature or more sinister talk of how they communicate with dead people in order to ask for guidance or knowledge of the future. In subtle ways, this can look a lot like prayer. But when we look closer, this is calling upon the power of something that is not God. This is not what we have been called to, and will not bring us the peace and joy of the God of the Bible.

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