Prayer is Not Mechanical

This blog post is written by Veritas summer intern, Alex Gray:

Willingly giving up control is not easy. As humans, especially as Americans, we are programmed to think that there is strength and merit in being self-sufficient. Not being in control translates to weakness, so we are all too prone to putting up the front of having it all together, whether that is in school, our job, or our spiritual life. The big problem presents itself when we maintain this façade when talking to God.

This summer I’m reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller, and I’ve been learning about the necessity to come to God with an honest and open heart. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus commands us to share with God our true thoughts and concerns, saying, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” God encourages us to find renewal in Him by unloading our hardships, anxieties, and tiredness upon Him. We don’t need to clean up our mindset before praying; instead, God delights in our honesty.

When I pray, I often find myself censoring what I share with God. If I catch myself thinking something selfish or naïve, I immediately scratch it and mentally reword my prayer. It doesn’t matter that God already knows my thoughts fully; I still think that by wording my prayers in a specific way I can appear to be in a good place with my struggles.

This isn’t what God intends for prayer. Our communication with Him is meant to be authentic. If we are happy or excited about a joy in our lives, God wants to share that feeling with us. In the same way, if we are confused, frustrated or doubtful about something, He wants to hear that as well. There’s no benefit in attempting to cover up those negative thoughts, as doing so only inhibits us from connecting with our Father.

We need to abandon the idea that in order to pray, we should sound intellectual, rational and put-together. While prayer is intentional, requiring time and thought, it is not mechanical. It involves genuine conversation without pretense, for it is when we allow God to enter our hearts freely that He can truly work in us.


About Colleen Kelly

I graduated from Mizzou in May '09 with an English degree and joined staff with Veritas soon after. I'm originally from St. Louis, but love living in Columbia. Things I love: reading (anything and everything), walking, being outside, coffee, conversation, theology, exploring, saturdays, and adventures.
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