Seven Sour Prayer Attitudes
What keeps people from praying more? Enjoying their prayer lives more? What hindrances do you find in your own prayer life (or lack thereof)?
Here are seven sour attitudes I've come across (full disclosure—some of these attitudes come from within my own brain, I’m sorry to say):
#1 Patronizing attitude: I don’t want to insult God by appearing to tell him things he already knows. If he’s really omniscient, he doesn’t need my reports. If he really loves me, he doesn’t need me to prod him to get moving on my behalf.
#2 Fear. I have treated God so poorly I deserve nothing from him. My prayers would be a waste of time because he must despise me. I have no chips.
#3 Pride. I don’t pray because I hate to beg. I can take care of myself. If I have problems, they're my own responsibility. My sufferings are my own fault and I will bear them without flinching.
#4 Pessimism. Prayer doesn’t work—I’ve tried it various times and nothing happened. I’m just talking to myself.
#5 False omniscience. I’m sure God’s answer will be No, so why bother even asking? I hate to get my hopes up when I know he’ll just dash them. It’s better not to risk my emotions on something that’s never going to happen.
#6 False trust. God will meet my needs or not as he pleases. I don’t have to pray to get him to do something—he will give me things when he feels like it and the time is right for him. In the meantime I’ll just try to keep walking.
#7 Prosperity. Who needs God? Why should I pray? I have everything I need and want. If something comes up I can afford to buy it or fix it, or one of my many friends will help me.
Here is how the Scriptures help me talk to myself about cultivating a better prayer attitude to get that sourness out of my head:
- I don’t deserve to have God listen to my prayers, much less answer them, but my Savior Jesus has cleaned me up and called me his brother. My prayers now smell good as they rise to heaven.
- God has good things to give me and others and is waiting to be asked. It is important to him that he be asked. It shows love, obedience, and trust. No ask, no blessings.
- Absolutely every prayer is heard, processed, and acted on in a way and on a schedule that is best for me and the other people affected.
- Prayer lets me put my little hands on God’s big hands and nudge how he steers the universe.