- Hayley Freels
3 Misconceptions of Prayer
When Grace City first began Prayer Room I quickly realized my personal prayer life had been neglected. I wasn’t regularly praying privately, so praying corporately felt out of reach. I would enter the Prayer Room with preconceived notions of intimidation, comparison, and inadequacy. To some degree, we all come to prayer (privately or in community) with preconceived thoughts or expectations about what it will be like.
Maybe you grew up in a church where the culture surrounding prayer was healthy, and you saw God move in incredible ways because of it. Or perhaps you were raised in an environment where prayer was used as a punishment for talking too much in Sunday school class or it was used only as a transition during the worship gathering as people were getting on and off the stage. Or maybe this whole prayer conversation is completely new to you and starting feels overwhelming. Regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, we all typically enter into prayer with thoughts, fears, and often times, misconceptions. Three misconceptions that I struggled with were feeling like I needed to have it all together, feeling like I needed to have the right words to say, and feeling fearful of praying out loud.
When I first started building the habit of a personal prayer life, I really felt like I needed to have it all together before coming to Jesus. I needed to pick up the broken pieces of my life, scoop them into my arms, and try to make sense of the puzzle before bringing it to the Lord. I needed to somehow be educated and skilled at praying before even attempting it. If how I was operating was true, the gospel wouldn’t be good news! The beauty of the gospel, and prayer, is that we can come to Jesus exactly in the state we are in. Over and over again in the New Testament we find Jesus being overwhelmingly drawn to those who are broken, weary, and suffering. 1 Peter 5:7 assures us that you can, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” Christ cares for us even when we don’t have it all together. As our Father, his heart longs for us to run to Him when life seems shattered and unorganized and chaotic. His desire is for us to sit as His feet exactly as He created us to be, expectant for Him to change us.
Secondly, I struggled with feeling like I needed to have the right words to say when I prayed. Was my prayer long enough? Good enough? Spiritual enough? Did I do it right at all? These were all thoughts that the enemy would fire into my mind. I would quickly fall into a trap of comparison and try to assess if I measured up or not. In its most reduced form, prayer is just conversation with God. When it comes to prayer, there is so much goodness in simplicity. God isn’t asking for over spiritualized vocab words or impressive knowledge of passages of Scripture. He is simply asking for your heart. Jesus warned in Matthew 6 to not heap up empty words to God to be seen by man, but to pray simply and whole-heartedly. Jesus does not equate loftiness to holiness. It simply delights His heart when His children speak to Him.
The last thought that was holding me back was the fear of praying out loud. This is a legitimate fear! Similarly to the other misconceptions, it was so easy for me to compare myself to others or worry about what everyone thought of me. I missed out on so much because I was scared of praying corporately. I’ve found in my life that I experience the most amount of spiritual growth when I begin stepping outside of my comfort zone. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. When I take the focus off of myself and put it onto Jesus, I become free to step into what He has called me to do.
Can I let you in on a secret? No one is focused on how many times you trip over your words. No one cares if your prayer didn’t come out exactly as you rehearsed in your head. Everyone in the room is simply longing to meet with Jesus. To catch a glimpse of His goodness and perhaps hear Him in that small, still voice. Praying out loud extends an invitation to those around you for how God is working in your life. It opens a door that God can use to encourage, convict, comfort, build up, or correct the people in the room. It is an invaluable gift to have God work in my life because of the prayers of another.
Prayer is so much more than just a habit to build. Prayer is worship. It is God-honoring and God-fearing. It is the acceptance that we cannot do this life apart from our Savior. It is admittance of total dependency on our King. It is both a weapon in battle and a conversation that brings intimacy with Jesus. We believe nothing significant will happen apart from prayer.
We all come to prayer with thoughts, expectations, and misconceptions. Perhaps, you related to some of the feelings I’ve experienced and it feels overwhelming to step into a corporate prayer setting. You are not alone! Everyone has felt these at some point in their spiritual formation. It’s okay to be a beginner, and it’s okay to feel unsure. We want to encourage you to take one small step. Whether it is incorporating prayer into your daily life, praying over a friend, or just showing up to Prayer Room, one small step will begin to lay a foundation. If you have any questions about prayer, our beliefs, or what it looks like to come to a Prayer Room please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!