7 Common Misunderstandings That Could Hinder Your Prayer Life

Hey y’all! To celebrate the launch of our Intentional Prayer Journals, we are spending the Month of November focusing on the topic of prayer. I can admit that for much of my Christian life, prayer was a total mystery to me. I was convinced it was something I was obligated to figure and do for God in exchange for my salvation.

There are a few misconceptions I see pretty regularly in the church. These misunderstandings or lies, influence the way we pray as well as the tone and frequency of our prayers. Scripture says the “Truth makes us free.”(John 8:32) So to kick off our prayer month, we are going to look at seven common misunderstandings people may have about prayer. 

I Only Have To Pray Once A Day

be unceasing and persistent in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer isn’t this dull routine we have to go through once a day. It’s so much more than that. Prayer is us getting to communicate, partner and make plans with our Heavenly Father and Him giving us His undivided attention and speaking back to us. It a two-way conversation that can go on throughout the entire day. 

You can talk to Him when you wake, during breakfast, on your drive to work, at work when your co-workers are a pain and so on! You can expect to hear back from Him through His scriptures or through a song that comes on at just the right time and catches your attention. Sometime He may respond through a beautiful sunset or the kind and timely words of a friend. You may even hear Him speak through a thought that goes through your mind, interrupts you, and speaks life into your heart. 

You don’t have to pray constantly. You get to pray anytime you want.

You Should Only Pray In Private

This one stems from Matthew 6:6 which says, “But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.” 

You do need to have a private place to pray. The foundation of your prayer life is laid in daily private prayer time, but to think that that’s the only place you can pray though is merely cutting yourself short of all that is available. You have 24/7 access to the Father. Our goal should be to be aware of God’s presence in our life all the time.

Prayer should be your first response to most situations. James 5:15 says, “…the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” There are also multiple accounts of Jesus praying out loud for the sake of others to hear and believe. The truth is others need to hear your sincere prayers.

If I Have Unconfessed Sin, He Won’t Hear My Prayers

This lie comes from a misunderstanding of a couple of verses most of which are Old Testament and therefore old covenant. You have to know that the resurrection power of Jesus is stronger than your unconfessed sins. He shed His blood to get you access to the Father eternally. You are covered. 

God’s position does not change. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced--beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  So to summarize nothing can separate us from God’s love and attention. 

Having a lot of sin in your life may impact the effectiveness of your prayers. That is not to say that God’s love wavers. It doesn’t. Remember His position does not change. Sin will affect the motives behind your prayers, and it will also rob you of your ability to wait for your answer. Sin leads to shame which could deceive you into not approaching God but know that if you need help your Father is ALWAYS listening and ALWAYS loving and no sin or amount of shame or guilt could ever stop that. 

It’s Bad To Fall Asleep During Bedtime Prayers

 I don’t know if this one has plagued anyone else’s life, but it has mine. I remember being ashamed that I couldn’t stay awake through my night time prayers. You know what I am saying right? You lay down at night and begin to thank God for all the blessings from your day and somewhere before “amen” you passed out?

This one is a simple fix. Imagine you are sitting on the couch and your four years old comes over and climbs up in your lap and begins to tell you stories from his day. You are listening intently, but then your little one starts to doze off. The tale slows and then comes to a stop, and your child is sound asleep. Now tell me, are you upset? Are you disappointed? Do you want to shake him awake and demand he finish? 

No! God is your Father, and I think the best way to fall asleep is in conversation with Him.

The Effectiveness Of My Prayers Is Dependent Upon Me Saying/Doing The Right Things

Mike shared this one with me. He believed that prayer was this checklist of tasks and routines to go through. I think this one is common in the church in general. 

It’s a lie that we can somehow have all of the control. 

"Revival came one time when we planned it in the fall so now we do it every fall to see if it can happen again. "

"God spoke to me this way once before, so that is now the only way I believe He speaks OR God has never communicated with me that way, so I don’t believe He speaks to anyone that way."

"I was healed when pastor prayed for me that one time so now every time I am ill I need him to pray again."

"God answered my prayer after I prayed for an entire hour or at least I felt pretty good when I told everyone about the hour of prayer so now that is what we all should be doing every day."

God cannot be put in a simple, predictable or controllable box. He’s huge, and His love is wild. 

If you look through the gospels, you’ll see that Jesus healed people in a multitude of different ways. There was nothing routine about Jesus’ ministry, and there is nothing routine about prayer or our Christian lives. Sure, there are guidelines and things but there is so much freedom. 

My Prayers Don’t Matter, Make A Difference, or Accomplish Much

This one is such a lie, friend. It’s rooted in a misunderstanding of God’s love, who you are as His beloved child and the ultimate purpose of prayer. First off, God is no respecter of persons. (Proverbs 20:10; James 2:9) He loves you uniquely and mightily and your voice matters to Him. Your perspective matters to Him.

You are powerful because of the authority that has been given to you. Elijah was an amazing man who partnered with God and prayed crazy things and saw them happen but look at what James says about him. 

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the land produced its crops [as usual]. James 5:17-18 AMP

He was just a man. If anyone’s heartfelt prayers are effective, then your heartfelt prayers are effective.

Praying Is Me Telling God About My Needs And Problems

“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

God is big. Real big. You should tell Him how you feel about what you are facing, but you should remember to spend more time telling your problems about how big God is. Speak to your mountains, if you will, and tell them to be removed. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to keep growing and learning. I want to hear from God more, and I want evidence of His presence in my life to become more and more plentiful. I pray you found something encouraging in today's post and I hope you’ll stick around with us this month as we press in to learn more about prayer and why it matters. 

The discipline that changed my prayer life the most has been keeping a prayer journal. The Intentional Prayer Journal was created from years of honing in on exactly what I needed to focus my mind and heart. It is more than a journal, and it will change the way you pray. You can click here to check out the Intentional Prayer Journal: 30-Day Reflection and Prayer Journal.

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Thank you guys for giving me a few minutes of your day and stopping here to read. Have an awesome day you guys!