I am so with you. I’m blushing at the thought of how inadequate my prayer life is. But then I think, “Compared to what?” Why do I feel a sense of unworthiness when it comes to prayer? Is it because of the way I feel? Probably. No doubt I’ve gone through seasons where I feel like I’m being intimate with God, thinking of others and just being a Xena-hardcore-amazing-prayer-warrior, and that is awesome. But on the reg, the day-to-day, I can’t help thinking that my prayer life sucks.
Most mornings I wake up, start talking to God, and it sounds something like this: “Lord, I am so tired! Please let me have some yoga pants clean because I forgot to shave my legs last night. Help me get out of bed. Or maybe you could think about making the Rapture happen today?”
Y’all might think I’m kidding but I’m 100% serious. I just can’t escape this feeling that I don’t measure up in my prayer life. But then again, what exactly am I trying to measure up to? Hopefully not others, because the Bible makes it pretty clear that we are all equally distant from the Lord and sinful. Maybe I’m comparing myself to Jesus? Well, if I do that it’s a guaranteed failure. Spoiler alert: HE IS PERFECT. Maybe there is no correct comparison.
I have realized that I am disappointed in the fact that I don’t have an intense emotional and spiritual high every time I talk with God. And yet after typing that out it sounds pretty ridiculous. I don’t get an intense spiritual high every time I talk to my husband even though I love the socks off of him. The root of the problem is not my actual prayer life but my perspective. The way I view prayer has been warped; somehow I view it as a competition. I see it as something I can succeed or fail at. When in reality it’s perfectly ok that I start my day out with silly thoughts directed at God. He accepts me. He knows and loves me and he enjoys it when I reach out to speak with him.
I see the same type of false perspective as I teach Holy Yoga. It’s great fun to introduce others to the practice. For most people, coming to class is a brand new experience. I love hearing from people who feel physical benefits of yoga after the first class or spiritual connection with Jesus during guided meditation. Everyone usually begins the first class feeling self-conscious, wanting to be in the very back of the room but gradually, with encouragement, people start asking questions and taking ownership of their own practice. Each person has a unique physical body and a different emotional status when they come into class. I love seeing all the various ways people can move through the poses and worship God. It would be pointless and insulting if I started comparing people to each other. And yet I do that exact thing with my own prayer life. I’m learning to change my perspective.
Sadly lots of people decide they don’t want to even try yoga. Multiple people have given me these exact words, “Oh, I’d like to do yoga but I’m just not flexible enough.”
I’m sorry, WHAT? ! Do you hear yourself? What kind of logic is that?! It’s like saying “I’m not very strong so I won’t go to the gym” or “I’m not spiritual enough so I won’t read my Bible”. Flexibility is only one tiny part of yoga! Their perspective is flawed. Looking at yoga through the tiniest possible lens, only allows you to see a minuscule portion of what it has to offer. It’s the same with prayer. Feeling like you are inadequate at prayer shouldn’t stop you from doing it. If we are contemplating and judging our prayer life based on our feelings then our perspective is limited! Imagine what we are missing out on!
Prayer is not about being perfect. It’s not a competition. And we can’t always expect to feel the same way each time we pray. Prayer is a journey. It’s a conversation. It’s being yourself and being with God. Just like everyone’s physical body takes a different path through the practice of yoga, every child of God has a prayer life that matches their own soul. Beautiful right? God is awesome. I encourage you to broaden your perspective! Open your heart up to all the wondrous possibilities of prayer.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and over the years have discipled many girls who struggle with bad feelings about prayer. Here are some suggestions anchored in truths from the Word that may help you to feel more freedom and less guilt as you spend time with the Lord.
- Never compare your prayers to someone else’s. When God wrote “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” in the Bible, He meant it. Our unique personalities and character are a gift from God to be embraced. Being different is not shameful, it’s beautiful! Any florist would tell you that different shapes, sizes and colors make for the most dazzling bouquets. Who would waste their time comparing a sunflower to a rose?
- Be with God doing things you like to do. In Hosea 6:6 God says “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” God wants you to know Him and love Him for who he really is. So be with Him in a way that you can discover who He is without the pressure to be over-spiritual. Go on a hike. Listen to worship music. Sip coffee in a local shop. Surf. Paint. Read. Anything. Share life with Him the same way you share it with your closest friends.
- Try something new. Psalm 34:8 tells us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” The day-to-day grind can get stale every now and again. To refresh your routine will be a wonderful adventure! Taste something new. Have you ever done Lectio Divina? Or been guided through meditation on God’s Word? Read through a daily devotional? How about prayer journaling? Give it a try! God is not your funky old grandpa who eats donuts and drinks prune juice every single morning. He is not slow. He is omnipotent! Alive and active and good.
- Realize that there is no one way or one time or one place to pray. God surrounds us. His Spirit dwells within us and Jesus promised to never leave us. I am fiercely passionate about this one. Do not listen to the person who tells you that you must get up at 4am and have 2 hours of prayer time with God on your knees beside your bed before you start your day and get your butt to work. I’ve struggled with this for years, but I’ve put my foot down recently. I refuse to give God my worst hours of the day. I’ve never been a morning person. Why would I force myself to pray when I can’t even think coherently? I refuse to be guilted into a terrible decision. Jesus prayed at all different times of the day and in all different places! See Luke 6:12 & Mark 1:35. I’m not saying you shouldn’t sacrifice a little sleep if you only have that window of time available to be with God. I’m simply saying that the idea of a strict and rigid “quiet time” every morning may not appeal to each and every Christian. We are not robots. God is a person. He is relational and available. Can I get a whoot whoot for all the night owls!?!?!?! Yeaaahh! (The funny thing is I’m writing this and it’s about 1am Ha!)
- Never stop crying out to God. Even our precious God-in-the-flesh Jesus never stopped praying, even though He knew His mission was to go to the cross. Hebrews 5:7 says “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” Prayer is for YOU, to give you peace, to focus your heart on your faith and not your sight, to teach you more about God’s perfect character and to weave your heart even tighter to His, creating a deep and unmoving reverence. Those prayers that Jesus offered up to God the Father gave him the strength to go to the cross and win victory over death.
- Treat God less like a genie in a lamp and more like a lover. Here is the simplest of ways that you can broaden your perspective. God doesn’t want just our prayer requests. Hosea 2:14-15 makes it obvious that He is in love with you!! “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” He displays his affections for His people over and over again. He is relentless! A God who does all that and more wants to know your deepest desires, your dreams, your feelings, your grief, your thoughts about Him.
- A simple surrender is a magnificent prayer. Let me give you some words more beautiful than my own to bring home this idea:“WHEN YOU LIVE IN GOD, your day begins when you open your eyes, though you have done nothing yourself to open them, and you take your first breath, though there is no reason why this life-giving breeze should be given to you and not to some other. In the dark or in the light, with a stone slab under your back or a feather topper, your day begins when you let God hold you because you do not have the slightest idea how to hold yourself—when you let God raise you up, when you consent to rest to show you get the point, since that is the last thing you would do if you were running the show yourself. When you live in God, your day begins when you lose yourself long enough for God to find you, and when God finds you, to lose yourself again in praise.”
There you have it: 7 refreshing thoughts about prayer. I hope and pray your perspective reflects the truth. Keep gleaning the truth of God’s Word wherever you can get it! In fact, it would be great if the comment section of this post were to become a place for you to share scripture about prayer! Encourage one another with HIS words.
Now go and be with the Lord. You can’t fail.