I have never been a great prayer. But early in my relationship with God at least I would sometimes get on my knees or get in a quiet place to avoid distractions. I knew people that kept a list of people and things to pray more. I guess to check them off when answered. I even had a list but over time I found another way.
Prayer is talking to God and not always requesting stuff
We can replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” God won’t punish you for not shutting your eyes. Silent or out loud conversations can include asking to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing concerns. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. God’s influence is a powerful positive encouragement. It may be easier to not be distracted if have a private place to go, but I prefer talking to God on my walks, sometimes while driving, sometimes when lying in bed. Humans are the ones with hang-ups not God.
Prayer isn’t rubbing a genie lamp
More prayers are unanswered than answered. God can’t wave a magic wand without accounting for freedom. It’s not that we didn’t pray enough with the right words and behaviors so God will answer. God can’t make one’s partner willing to stop drinking. A lot of prayers ask for healing. I doubt God is stingy. Conditions in our body may not always be right. Various biological and environmental factors are involved such as cells, organs, etc. If God respects human freedom, it may not be a stretch to say God has to account for natural freedom as well. God surely intervenes by all means when circumstances will allow.
Prayer is more acting than talking
Relax! God is an omnipresent Spirit. God already knows needs before spoken. Prayer shouldn’t be a substitute for acting. It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take cooperative actions with God. This is the most common way that God answers prayers – with others. Rather than praying your friend’s partner stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their partner. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God longs to help us help others.
What does the Bible say?
You won’t find some ritual in the Bible God demands you follow. Mathew 7:7 is used to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always want to give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12).
It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it but chose not to. Divine love limits divine power. True love, thus God’s love, is uncontrolling. God is already doing all they can in a free world. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or behave enough. God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. Pray for wisdom, pray for healing and the ability to accept whatever happens, pray for the courage to cooperate with God for positive change.
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