A Prayer Breakthrough

I’ve been thinking a lot about my prayer life as we head into this new year. I don’t know if it’s ever been exactly where I would like it to be, but for the first time in a long time I’m actually excited about what prayer looks like in my life. I wrote a little about this in my latest book Empty Promises: The Truth About You, Your Desires, and the Lies You’re Believing. Praying this thought will be as revolutionary to you as it was to me.

(Excerpt from Empty Promises)

Ever feel guilty about how little time you spend in prayer or about not being able to stay focused during prayer time? Ever wonder if you’re praying the right way or worry that you should be doing something different?

John Ortberg wrote about this in his book The Me I Want to Be: “When I pray, I end up praying about things I think I should be concerned about: missionaries, world peace, and global warming. But my mind keeps wandering toward stuff I am genuinely concerned about. The way to let my talking flow into praying is this: I must pray what is in me, not what I wish were in me.”

I love that. What an incredible breakthrough. The more I’ve started to pray what’s in me instead of what I wish were in me, the more I’ve been able to truly enjoy my time with God.

This really gets into a deeper issue of prayer. I think many of us live with this idea that somehow God doesn’t hear or see certain things in our lives. We actually think we can fool God by praying about one thing even though we’re thinking and focused on another.

Sometimes I have to laugh as I watch my three boys fight at dinner over who’s going to ask the blessing. It usually starts with my oldest, Jett, saying something like, “I think Gage should pray tonight.” Gage will say, “No, I think Brewer should pray.” And Brewer will say, “No, I prayed last night. It’s Jett’s turn.”

Just a few nights ago I asked my son Gage if he would bless the food. He looked at me with these big puppy-dog eyes and said, “Dad, I want to. I really do. But I’m just way too hungry to pray tonight. Someone else is going to have to do it.”

The excuses will typically go on and on until I finally step in and assign someone this most difficult task of thanking God for the food he has provided for us. Then one of the boys will actually launch into a prayer that will make you think he’s wanted to do that all day.

The whole routine is not only funny, but quite ironic, because apparently it never crosses those boys’ minds that maybe God can actually hear them arguing about not wanting to pray. But no adult would ever think that way. Right?

Sure we would. We do it all the time.

This is exactly why people use a different voice when they pray! It’s why we think we have to close our eyes or be in a certain position with our hands held just right. It’s why we pray about stuff we think sounds spiritual instead of just saying what’s truly on our hearts and minds.

You will experience a breakthrough in your prayer life when you discover you don’t have to pray anything other than what’s on your mind and in your heart. This is when you begin to discover that every moment, every thought, every second is another opportunity to connect with your Father in heaven.

So seriously, how’s your prayer life going?

10 Responses to “A Prayer Breakthrough”

  1. diane1230 says:

    Just reading this — I love the idea! I feel like I have never been given “permission” to pray this way, but the idea in itself is SO freeing. Thanks for writing this post!

  2. I love this idea. It is very beneficial to me when I can be “just real” and truly express what is on my heart to my Creator. On another related note… you mentioned how we sometimes focus on our position while praying, holding our hands closed, and closing our eyes… dont we do this to oursleves in our society by teaching our children at such a young age? I am questioning these traditions these days in how I model for my own 2 year old when we pray

  3. Laura says:

    This post reminded me so much of an internal debate I had a while back. Every time I would tell myself I was going to pray, I found my prayers were less genuine. One moment I would try to say God or Jesus every other word, bow my head, etc. because that’s how my church did it. The next minute I would hold back and sugar coat things because I didn’t think God would like what I had to say. My prayers weren’t authentic, and I realized it was because of all of the preconceived ideas I had about prayer. So I’ve stopped calling my private prayers prayers and started calling them talks with God. They still are prayers and this might be semantics, but for me, calling it a talk takes away a lot of the road blocks I put up for myself. I am more authentic, and it never feels obligatory. Doing this has also allowed prayer to be on my mind more often. I don’t just do it at meals, before bed, etc. That is a great excerpt. Now that I’ve finished Plan B, I’m excited to move on to Empty Promises.

  4. Tammy says:

    Well I’m definitely not the authority on this, but I do believe our position in how we pray tells what you are trying to get out of the prayer and is important. Where you are will determine how you pray. But I believe your main focus should be what you are praying. Without anybody telling me, this is how I started out as a child praying: I poured out my heart and soul: meaning I spilled everything out on the table for God to see. I was a hurting child and I talked to God as a friend, but also knowing he was greater than any friend I ever had and that he could do All Things. Later in life as God shaped and molded me and I seeked Him more I desired to pray for others besides myself and my family. I have and still do this, I asked God why do I have to go through what I’m going through with my child, my health, my finances…..Well for one: it has so put a yearning in my heart for the lost, and hurting. God is growing me through my experiences to be able to reach a certain people. I guess what I am trying to say is that through our life’s experiences we will learn to pray a certain way, IF we are seeking God. We need to read the Word daily to grow in Him, if you miss a day or days it’s ok just get back in it, but also include prayer throughout the day, also make sure you have alone time with Just God And you. Then you will know what to pray because he will lay it on your heart. I found in doing this I have more than I could ever imagine to pray and sometimes it is overwhelming. If it gets this way make a list of things to pray. Maybe you don’t pray about the same thing or person everyday, but have a day set for that one person every week. There are times I say I don’t know what to pray or how and then the Holy Spirit steps in. Just listen to what is on your mind and pray for those things and most importantly BELIEVE on it. Always have an ear open to God throughout your day. Always be mindful of Him in everything you do. Then you will catch yourself continually praying. :)

  5. Sheila says:

    I love the analogy of your sons, how many times are we too hungry, busy or even late to pray. As a young mother and new believer I came to understand that praying God’s Word was so much more effective than my own opinion or desires. My sons brought this to my attention as their battle was to pray first at the table, especially as they were memorizing Scripture and learning to put in a prayer form. It became such fun! Thanks for your words of encouragement to use the tool of knowing how to pray for ourselves and for our world!

  6. Elaine says:

    Prayer is not easy – I wonder if we get too familiar in prayer and forget who we are conversing with!

  7. jason says:

    What can I say? Prayer is our ultimate weapon. I heard another Christian say one time, “in your spiritual walk if you dont eventualy run into the devil, than you must be goin in the same direction.” Its been my experiance when we trully pray the will of the Father through Christ. Things get tough, but realize all that does is make all the more proof of our faith. (im sure there are some script to back this up I just cant think of any right now.. Mabee you know one, Pete?)

  8. floyd says:

    I did most of the praying at dinner when our girls were young, but when I’d call one of them out to pray they always acquiesced with honor… girls are different.

    Great point, God already knows our hearts before we begin to spill it. Maybe I need to be a little more mindful of His heart’s desire… That’s a scary prayer to pray…

    Thanks to Jason from Connecting To Impact for linking this up.

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