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.