Prayer: 3 Myths
When I worked as a women's pastor, I once had a woman in our congregation get very angry with me because I took prayer requests at a meeting and led our small group in prayer for the needs presented. Flabbergasted, I asked her what the problem was.
She responded harshly, accusing me of telling the devil the areas where we all felt weak and vulnerable. She said I had opened us up to spiritual attack. She believed with all her heart that Satan was listening to her at all times, just waiting for an opportunity to hurt her.
I blinked a few times, praying for God to give me wisdom to answer her fears. My heart swelled with compassion as I realized the fear she must live under, thinking the devil can attack us if he hears us say something that makes us vulnerable. She believed that only her thoughts were protected, so she should pray silently and never admit out loud to what she struggled with.
Myth 1: Praying out loud or telling someone our prayer requests makes us vulnerable to Satan's attack.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our hearts and minds are guarded by God, especially when a need is brought to Him in prayer. I prayed for her to have the peace of God and for her fear to be turned into freedom. We can trust our mighty and powerful God to protect the precious things we lay before Him in prayer.
Myth 2: Our prayers must be spoken aloud to be powerful. We must talk the whole time.
As I shared last week, I was told as a child by another well-meaning Christian, that prayers spoken aloud were much more powerful than silent prayers. She believed that silent prayers lacked the boldness with which we are to come before the Lord. But,
Matthew 6:7: When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
God is much more concerned with the attitude of our hearts than the method in which we pray. Silent prayers can be as powerful and effective as any other prayer. Think of the Christian in a dangerous situation where silence is necessary to survival, praying with all her heart for God to physically rescue her and make her safe.
Ephesians 6:18 says, "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere."
If we are required to pray out loud, in our understanding, then we cannot fulfill this encouragement from Paul. We are to have an attitude of communion with the Holy Spirit at all times. Of course, we can't physically be alert at all times, we can't be in prayer 24 hours a day, every day; but we can be in an attitude of prayer by submitting our lives to Christ and seeking His glory above all else.
Myth 3: Worrying about something constantly is the same as intercession.
Intercessory prayer is persistent prayer for another person or a situation that we feel burdened about. Worrying is not the same thing! Someone may say, "I was up all night praying about this situation." But were they? Or was it actually that they were so anxious about it that they couldn't sleep.
There ARE times that a desperate situation calls for desperate prayer. I have been up in the night, on my poor, old knees, begging God through wracking sobs to rescue a loved one from their terrible choices. I've begged God to intervene, to move the mountain before it fell on that family and completely destroyed them. I've prayed until my tears have run dry, face in the floor, unwilling to move until I felt released of the burden by the Holy Spirit. And when the peace I sought eventually came, I was released from the burden and able to sleep deeply.
That is not the same thing as laying in bed all night, wide awake, allowing our minds to play out every possible scenario, fretting and trying to figure out a solution. (I've done that too and there's no eventual peace there.)
Do not allow the burden you carry to steal your joy. When you are deeply burdened, PRAY. Seek God for help. Ask God to intervene. Stay for as long as you need to, not offering God solutions, but asking God to move in the way that is best. But at some point, you will feel released of the burden. That's when you lay it down and rest. Sleep should come sweetly then.
Next week, I plan to write about prayer journaling. It's one of my favorite forms of prayer and I'm looking forward to sharing more about it.
If you have questions about prayer, perhaps a myth I haven't covered, drop them in the comments below. Maybe we can figure it out together.
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