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We hate to even admit it, but we’ve all experienced it.
Prayer sometimes feels boring.
It’s ALL TOO REAL. Prayer can feel slow and pointless and like it just doesn’t matter.
It is literally getting to commune any time, anywhere, with the God of the Universe. The being that set the world in motion and formed our bodies, minds and souls, is inviting us to talk to Him.
How can that possibly be boring??
The reality is, this monumental truth can get lost on us when we’re bleary-eyed and it’s still dark outside and we’re trying to form a prayer.
I truly think if we started each prayer meditating on who God really is, it could transform our prayer lives in an instant, but I do want to share some really specific examples of why prayer feels boring. The root of it is that we are forgetting who God is, but it can take many different forms that I’ll share below.
During the editing process of Pray Confidently and Consistently, I noticed how often I had written something along the lines of “this is the common misconception that likely makes prayer feel boring.” It felt like a message we needed to be reminded of because the struggle is just too real.
Take a moment to pray and ask God to reveal to you if any one of the following reasons is showing up in your prayer life. And if you want more on any particular point, grab the book. (I know I keep saying that but it’s literally where I distilled everything I hope will help someone overcome obstacles to praying).
Here we go! Seven reasons prayer may feel boring right now:
1. WE’RE DOING ALL THE TALKING
We’re expecting our own words to carry the power when the power of prayer lies in God’s role in it. We bring our humble offering of words and we need to speak, don’t get me wrong, but how often do we do all the talking. We’ve muted the God of the universe. That’s like me asking Joanna Gaines to meet with me about designing my home and then telling her all my ideas and getting up before I let her talk. And then what if I turned around and got annoyed that my time with her fell flat when I literally didn’t leave room for her to talk. This is just a human example, but doesn’t it paint a picture of how silly it is to pray and not leave room for the Lord to speak to us? And then to imply there’s something wrong with God when I never let him speak?
2. WE’RE MAKING WISHES INSTEAD OF PRAYERS / PRAYING OUTSIDE OF GOD’S WILL
I think the biggest difference between a wish and prayer is that a wish is like a hail mary pass thrown. We have no clue if it’s possible, we’re just trying to see what might work. A prayer is based on something. It may be based on specific promises in the Bible or just what we know of God’s character that leads us to pray for something. If we spend all our time praying for a painful circumstance to disappear, we’ll likely be disappointed by prayer and more so God. But what if we prayed according to God’s will and promises. What if, in light of James 1:2-4, we prayed that God would transform us through the pain? What if, in light of Isaiah 26:3 and Psalm 23:4, we prayed for God’s presence to comfort us and bring us peace through the trials? When we start praying instead of wishing, we will see God work in ways we never expected.
3. WE’RE PRAYING FOR LUNCHES AND SAFE TRAVELS
Friends, this is a tough one. I think we’re all guilty of praying really small prayers. If we haven’t seen God work in our lives beyond the small things, prayer might feel boring. There is a spiritual battle raging and we are being invited into that battle. As I read stories of cities like Cali, Colombia or Almolonga, Guatemala, I am amazed at what God is doing through prayer! God is anything but boring. Watch the Transformations documentary if you want to get excited about praying big things. You can also start praying with groups. It may be with your church, a small group or a city-wide group. Praying for things beyond our personal comfort has the power to light a fire under us.
4. WE’RE HOLDING BACK OUR REAL FEELINGS
If we’re afraid to be honest with God, if we’re unsure He can handle it, if we assume we’re supposed to clean ourselves up before we come to God, prayer will feel boring because it’s not authentic. We’re holding back. In Pray Confidently and Consistently, we spend a whole chapter talking about prayers of lament and doubt. And at one point, I made sure to mention, it’s not because God loves our complaining. It’s because He is the only one who can transform our hearts and address our doubts. But if we hide those things from God, we’re creating a barrier that will leave us with a fake or at best, shallow conversation with God.
5. WE’RE NOT OBEYING
Prayer isn’t getting a second opinion. If we treat prayer like that, it will be boring. Because let’s be honest, if we’re just looking for a second opinion, we’ll likely choose our own if God’s looks even the slightest bit uncomfortable. But what if we came to God, with hearts prepared to follow Him and obey? God’s plan is better than anything we could plan for ourselves. So it should not surprise us if prayer or even our lives feel boring when we keep choosing our own way.
6. WE’RE NOT MAKING SACRIFICES
Fasting and prayer are two beautiful sides of the same coin that we often forget to flip over. As I looked through Scripture, I’ve been amazed to see how prevalent fasting was and how often miracles happened as a result of prayer and fasting. Maybe the breakthrough you’re waiting on is on the other side of your comfort zone? Fasting is a physical way we tell God that He matters more than anything else. There’s a whole chapter in Pray Confidently and Consistently on fasting but if you want just a taste, check out this blog post!
7. WE’RE GIVING UP BEFORE IT GETS GOOD
Consistency, when we don’t see any obvious fruit from our prayer times, is hard. Everything in our world leads us to believe that if we can’t see the fruit in 60-minutes or less, it’s not worth it. But prayer is counter culture. It requires space and quiet. It requires time and our attention. And I think as we keep going in prayer, even when we don’t see the immediate results, we bring untold glory to God. We reveal a faith in God that transforms our lives. And we get to see Him move, on His timetable and not our own. If we are requiring God to fit in our timetable, we will feel like prayer is boring. But if we let God lead, we will be blown away by the privilege it is to pray.
C.S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters, which is a fictional book about a senior demon training a novice demon in how to tempt a human, helps paint this picture from the perspective of what we’re up against. Letter 4 in the book talks about prayer and I thought it was fascinating to read in light of this topic of boring prayer.
Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself [God], we are defeated. But there are ways of preventing him from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings by the action of their own wills. … Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by the success in producing the desired feeling.
We literally have an enemy who is longing to keep us all wrapped up in small prayer that barely includes God. When we set our gaze fully on God in prayer, when we don’t wait for our fleeting feelings to affirm whether we should keep praying, our real enemy is defeated.
Keep praying. Don’t give up. I promise it’s worth it.
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