Stop Praying!

Does God require a certain type of prayer?

Over the past few years of counseling, I have encountered a surprising number of people who told me that they could no longer pray.  They had come out of a legalistic home and prayer had been part of that structure.  Now, every time they tried to prayer, they felt so full of shame and bondage that they had to stop.  It wasn’t just that they were bound to a certain method of prayer; it was that prayer itself had become bondage.

This must be one of the most pernicious and most effective strategies of the evil one.  Prayer is our lifeline.  Our ongoing conversation with the Lord who loves us and is with us is a vital part of our Christian walk.  If the evil one succeeds in taking prayer from us through his lies, then we have lost something of great value.

So here’s an idea of what I tell people: Stop trying to pray.  Just stop praying. 

Instead, just stop once in a while to think about the fact that the Lord is with you and He loves you.  He accepts you and does not condemn you.  He is your friend because He wants to be your friend.  He has only good thoughts toward you.  This is Jesus, who lived a life much like yours and who is with you to walk with you through your life.  He is God and He is good and He smiles when He thinks of you.

Now, if you just sit there and enjoy His presence with you, that’s fine.  But if you feel like talking to Him, go ahead.  Just don’t pray.  He will hear you.  You can ask Him questions.  You can tell Him how you are feeling.  You can tell Him what has upset you.  You don’t have to do anything.  You don’t have to close your eyes or fold your hands.  Just talk with Him as you would a friend—if you want, you don’t have to even do that much.  You certainly don’t have to pray. 

And then listen for Him to respond.  He might speak deeply into your heart.  You might hear words of love.  He may arrange circumstances as an answer or send someone to walk with you.  But He does love you and He will answer you.  You don’t need to pray.

Now, of course, if they talk with Jesus in that private time, they are certainly praying.  But they don’t think of that as prayer because prayer had all kinds of baggage from the past.  So get “prayer” out of the way.  Just bring them to Jesus.

Your thoughts?

9 Comments

Filed under Freedom, grace, Legalism, Relationship

9 responses to “Stop Praying!

  1. Suzanne

    That sounds so beautiful, but how do you sit there in His presence knowing full well that you have dishonored, disobeyed, and scorned Him in your heart that very day?

    • I once believed the same as you: (but how do you sit there in His presence knowing full well that you have dishonored, disobeyed, and scorned Him in your heart that very day?) When I discovered Jesus’ love for me goes way beyond my ability to dishonor, disobey and scorn Him, I found my freedom to trust Him. My ‘sinful nature’ or ‘old man’ died when I accepted Jesus. The present ‘ugly side’ of my inner life now originates from ‘the power of SIN’ living in my members which is not actually me. It looks, sounds and feels like the ‘old’ me but it is not me; just another trick of the evil one to distance me from my ‘safe place’ in Jesus. You are about to experience a blessing which will knock your socks off.

    • @”but how do you sit there in His presence knowing full well that you have dishonored, disobeyed, and scorned Him in your heart that very day?”
      —————————————————————-

      look at the cross.
      We already have dishonored, disobeyed, and scorned Him.
      actually we have nailed Him at the cross.

      but then we can run to Jesus and He will say to us.
      I understand you completely, I 100% man like you

      – grace and peace

    • Kelly

      Before we were even born, Christ provided the atonement for our sin and I personally think our greatest battle is to believe that every moment.

    • This is such an important question! I appreciate the great answers others have given. We all go through this to a certain extent. It seems to boil down to the most simple fact: we don’t have any other place to go. Peter and the other disciples didn’t understand or appreciate the teachings Jesus gave about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. They were repulsed, just like the other good Jews. But when Jesus asked if they were going to leave Him like the others, Peter answered, “Where would we go?” Jesus, you are the only place of refuge and acceptance for me.

      But that isn’t all. The only real help for our treacherous hearts is in Jesus. His love is the only thing that actually can overcome our dishonor and shame. So we are drawn to the One we scorned because He truly loves us.

      My wife and I are reading George Bush’s book, Decision Points, which came out a few years ago. There is a line in it that we should all memorize so we can tell others. He talks about the love of his family and he says, “Eventually their patient love affected me. When you know you have unconditional love, there is no point in rebellion and no need to fear failure.” That’s what we find in the presence of Jesus.

      It is uncomfortable sometimes, but He draws us with His love and shows us that He is neither angry nor ashamed.

      • (only real help for our treacherous hearts)
        Do new creations from Jesus have a new treacherous heart? If we do, will our treacherous heart be transformed when we die and enter heaven? Do you think it may be that we who are transformed to be as Jesus are that way now and the only thing to change when we die is to get a new body? Is our new life in Jesus only positional here on earth leaving the reality to be experienced at some type of last minute cleansing? What do you think?

  2. Rebekah Grace

    I absolutely LOVE this!

  3. Kelly

    this is great advice…we don’t close our eyes or fold our hands when we pour our heart out to others. I personally talk to the Lord like He is walking every minute with me…because He is.

  4. Marsh,

    Thanks for catching this! These words come out so easily, don’t they? That’s why we need to help each other.
    I believe that Christ has given us new hearts and they are not treacherous. I should have used the word “flesh” instead. It is our flesh that betrays us and leads us into bondage. And our flesh will be finally and forever removed from us when we are changed into glory. I have written on the flesh before, but I teach that the flesh is the old system with which we learned to handle life. It is the way of living that is connected to this world, taught to us by our experiences, our parents, and the world system. It continues to affect the thinking of the Christian, even though we are positionally separate from it.
    There is some question about what the “heart” actually is. Obviously, the word refers to something more than the physical organ. In fact, it doesn’t refer to what we call the heart at all. It seems to me that the heart is the focus of our lives, from which we are motivated. It may be the same as the will, although there are still some differences. In Adam, my heart was focused on the things of this world. In Christ, my heart is focused on Him. I have a new heart now, one that is no longer “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
    Again, good catch! These distinctions are important.

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