I think we’ve all, despite our best intentions, found ourselves making excuses not to pray. Here are some of the most common lies about prayer that have been a struggle for myself and others in our community. Cling to these truths and find the freedom to power through and pray today.
Lie: I’m too busy.
This is one of the very biggest lies we tell ourselves. It honestly doesn’t feel like a lie though, right? Our days are FULL with household chores, taking care of kids, taking care of clients, studying for tests, managing finances, and even just cooking 3 square meals to keep us functioning.
Truth: I can make time for what’s important to me.
Yikes! We’re coming swinging right out the gate, huh? This is a very challenging reality to grasp. We don’t want to believe it’s true, but the things that are a priority we can make time for. It doesn’t mean we magically have 3 hours of prayer time just hiding beneath other things we choose, but my bet is that there are 30 minutes in our day where we are doing less important things.
Action: Here are a ton of ideas, most of which you probably already know. Not all will work, but maybe something will spark an idea. Wake up before the kids. Shut off Netflix after one episode. Stop scrolling. Put down the book. Pray while you cook. Pray while you clean. Pray while you drive. Listen to a guided prayer like our Springboard Prayers podcast.
Lie: It’s been too long.
If you haven’t been very consistent in your prayer life, it’s really easy to feel like you can’t come to God now. It feels embarrassing. Like calling a friend for a favor that you haven’t talked to in a while. We feel shame for not doing what we know we should do.
Truth: Now is the perfect time.
God is a safe place. He already knows your every flaw and every sin, the ones already committed and the ones to come, and yet He still loves you. Give Him credit. His grace is sufficient. Also? It says a lot when we finally come to Him instead of thinking we’re better off keeping our distance to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.
Action: Stop right now and say a quick prayer. Lord, I am sorry it’s taken me so long to come to you. I want to. I just don’t know how to and feel silly. Help me to understand your deep love for me and give me a passion to keep coming to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Lie: I’m just gonna fail again.
So this isn’t a complete lie. On this side of heaven, we will always come short. But you can make progress. You can change your prayer life. Plus, all the negative talk is only sabotaging us.
Truth: What I see as failure, is part of the process.
I’ve been harping on this idea a bunch lately because we’ve been noticing those who are successful with our journals hit roadblocks. They just keep going after them and don’t take it as an exit point. Do you have a half-used journal? Guess what, if you pick it up now and start again, it’s not a failure. It’s only a failure if you quit for good, so keep going.
Action: Start again. I know this is almost too simple of an answer but what if what you viewed as failure was the beginning of growth? If you need to get rid of the missed pages, start a new notebook, get back in the headspace of prayer (like reading a book on it?) do it. We’ve got tons of free resources to reinvigorate you in your prayer life.
Lie: I’ll do it later.
We desperately want to believe this is true! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a chore that was difficult that I kept putting off, assuming I’d do it later. For me currently, it’s been making soups. I have a few good recipes that make great nutritious lunches and keep me from eating things that won’t do my thyroid any good. It’s become a joke. I’ll tell Tyler I’m making soups today and it just never happens. Something always comes up. Or we just assume our motivation will be stronger later.
Truth: Later never comes.
Maybe it does sometimes, but it’s likely true that later never comes. That burst of motivation never comes. If anything, we’re busier than we were before. We saw earlier, that the longer we put prayer off, the easier it is to keep putting it off.
Action: Schedule time to pray tomorrow and make sure it’s realistic. Something that you can stick to. It doesn’t mean things don’t come up but it is reasonable and worth it!
Lie: It’s boring.
Ouch. I know. We don’t like to admit it, but this is one reason we don’t feel like praying. This is a lie though. Prayer is not boring. It’s easy to think that prayer is boring when we’re praying really small or only looking at one specific prayer to be answered and not seeing him work in one specific way.
Truth: It’s not.
Just think about it for a second. Prayer is literally talking with the Creator of the universe. The God who knows everything. The God who has the power to raise from the dead and part waters. The creativity to form mountains, beaches, and every species. The knowledge to know every part of us. The love to desire communion with us. That’s not boring. The problem may be in how we are approaching prayer.
Action: Check out this blog post on 7 reasons prayer feels boring and see what might be sucking the life and joy out of prayer time.
Lie: It won’t change anything.
If you’ve been praying one specific prayer for a long time and not seeing God work, it’s hard to hold out hope that our prayers matter. Our enemy is working overtime to keep this lie alive. We will simply not pray if we don’t think there’s any power in it.
Truth: Prayer changes our hearts and circumstances.
As we pray, God works in our hearts and aligns our desires with His. But He also literally changes our circumstances. This concept is really big to dive into in a blog post. We go into a lot of detail in my book Pray Confidently and Consistently if you want more. But we see so many passages throughout Scripture that emphasize God responding to prayers prayed.
Action: Ask every believer you know well to share what God has done through prayer. Read books of faithful prayer warriors. George Mueller is a great place to start.
Lie: It’s too small to pray for.
When we see the state of the world, it’s hard to pray for what we deem as minuscule needs in comparison. And it’s true, we want to have a heart for praying for other people’s needs, but our personal needs aren’t something to hide from the Lord because we don’t want to bother Him. This implies we don’t truly know how loving and attentive a God He actually is.
Truth: God cares about everything in your life.
God is not limited in the number of things He can care for and tend to like we are. We have a small capacity but God’s is limitless. He watches our coming and goings (Psalm 121:8). He hems us in, in front, and behind. Does it mean his ultimate goal is to bless us with a close parking spot when it rains? No. But if it’s enough to concern our hearts and consume our minds, He wants it all.
Action: Write down the thing that is occupying your thoughts right now that feels too small to pray and give it to God.
Lie: I can handle it.
Essentially, we subconsciously believe we don’t need God. And if we believe we can handle our lives, what reason do we have to pray? Instead, we’ll spend every waking moment trying to work for the thing we assume we can handle on our own.
Truth: No, you can’t.
We need God desperately. It’s this desperation that is the root of every good prayer life. Moses was known as the most humble man that ever lived (Numbers 12:3) and he was also the one who got to experience incredible intimacy with God. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think his humility and desperation kept him coming back to God all the time.
Action: Take time to reflect on God’s awesome power. Ask yourself, is there any reason I feel like I should handle this on my own? Is it comfortable finances, education, connections, or physical strength?
Lie: God already knows, so I don’t need to tell Him.
God does already know but that never was the qualification for why we talk to Him. Throughout Scripture, we are called to pray in all circumstances. Even though God knows every detail of every circumstance.
Truth: God already knows, but He still wants communion with me.
Prayer is not simply an exchange of knowledge. God is our Father and He wants a relationship with us. And that relationship transforms us more than we realize. To have a relationship implies a dialogue. That means not just telling God things but listening too. So even if God knows everything and even if God didn’t want a relationship with us, and even if we didn’t grow in time with the Father, prayer is still a necessary way God communicates to US. Lots of big concepts and hard to dive into here, but we cover this in Pray Confidently and Consistently too!
Action: Talk to God about the big obvious things you’ve assumed you don’t need to share because He already knows. Ask Him questions. Is what you’re feeling accurate? Do you need to make a decision? Seek His Word and wise counsel and be open to His response and finally, choose to obey.
Well, this was a heavy and challenging post! My prayer is that as we read these things, God would soften our hearts to the lies that are holding us back from prayer. You don’t need to latch on to each one. Just be open to how God leads you to respond!
If you’ve believed a lie, don’t feel shame. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and he desires to keep us away from prayer. He’s planting the seeds that will sound the most rational and natural. He can’t help himself. But we have power and authority over those lies. We can overcome them. Pray that God’s truth would ring louder and commit to following His voice when you hear it.