The Definition of Prayer and Misconceptions in Prayer

Taken from a book Live a Praying Life, by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Prayer is not giving God instructions to follow. “To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs,…” Prayer is not limited to a segment of our lives or to a scheduled event in our days. It is an attitude of receptivity in which we live every moment. It is being open to Him at all times. It is living in the presence of God always in the process of being reshaped and recreated by him.

The truth about prayer will free us to pray with the boldness God intends.

Misconceptions in prayer:

#1 Misconception – prayer is only for material needs.

Often we come to God prepared to do battle with Him, convince Him of the validity of our need, and give Him reasons to meet it. What a contrast to the way a little child comes to his or her parents! A child simply assumes that the need or desire is potent enough to speak for itself. All that is required is to bring that need to Mom’s or Dad’s attention. The request assumes the answer. The child’s only thought is to bring the need to the source of supply. God WANTS to meet your need because He’s your daddy and you are the apple of His eye.

#2 Misconception – Prayer is to convince God to implement our ideas. This person feels that God always starts out against him and must be won over. Prayer of this kind pits the pray-er against God: it is a like a battle of the wills.

The person who prays this way tends to look for the right formula, or the right words to say, or the right order in which to say them. This person is always on a quest to find the approach to God that will finally get Him to act.

The secret to power in prayer lies not in hoe to ask, but in how to receive!

#3 Misconception – Prayer is to hold God to His promises. Some pray as if God forgets or tries to renege on His promises and is depending on prayers to remind Him of them. This kind of pray-er treats God’s Word as if it were a catalog. He decides what God should do, looks through the Bible to find a verse that will match that plan, andorders it. In doing so, as in catalog shopping, the pray-er skims over everything that holds no appeal. He picks and chooses.

Remember, Scripture is not God’s words; it is God’s Word! Scripture is a whole and cannot be cut apart and pasted together to match my agenda. His Word is not a catalog. It is His promise in writing.

The promises are not for me to use in getting my way with God, but they are for God to use to inspire faith and confidence within me.

#4 Misconception – Prayer helps pry riches out of God’s reluctant hands. “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of God’s willingness.” God does not have to be convinced to let go of His blessings. He lavishes the riches of His grace and love on us (Eph 1.7-8; 1 John 3.1). He is extravagant in His gifts; He pours them out. Don’t expend spiritual energy needlessly trying to convince God of something He already knows. Giving you every good thing gives Him joy; it delights Him. Jesus assures us with these words in Luke 12.32 (“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”). His heart is set on you to do you good.

The TRUTH about prayer will set you free. Prayer is the means by which you will be freed from your earthbound, timebound thinking to participate in eternity. True prayer releases His power so that His power can accomplish immeasurably more than we can ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3.20).

God means for prayer always to bring His power to earth. His intent is that every prayer finds His “yes.” Prayer will work as God intends for it to work when it becomes what God intends for it to be. Prayer is not an activity, but a relationship. Prayer is not a formula, but a life. Only when we have learned how to live prayer, breathe prayer, be prayer – only then will the power available through prayer be consistently manifested on the earth. God has ordained that prayer will be the conduit through which His intervening earth-changing power flows from heaven to earth. Prayer is what sets God’s will in motion on the earth.

Challenge: Set God’s will in motion on the earth; learn His heart; know His will: PRAY!!!