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?