The fifth lie that keeps us from prayer is this...
5. "I feel burdened to pray, but it feels obligatory. I know that I should pray, but I don’t want to.” Basically, when I pray I feel holy. When I don’t, I feel guilty. The root issue of this lie is the idea of works righteousness. Praying more makes me a better Christian, and, on the other side, when I don’t have long prayer times, I feel guilt from not “doing” enough. Both perspectives view prayer as a good work and not a means of grace; as something we do for God; something that pleases Him.
Consider the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-18. If our prayers are the prayers of the pharisee (good works done to earn God’s favor), then they will become drudgery. But, if we enter into prayer expecting to receive from God, then we will pray like the tax collector. And we will RECEIVE mercy and grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). In fact, Romans 8:26 says that we really do not even know what to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for us.
Sometimes we focus too much on the prayer itself instead of God. Our goal is to experience God, and prayer is the means by which we get to know Him. When we fail to pray, we are really forfeiting the grace we could be experiencing and withholding that from ourselves.We don’t pray to gain favor for better results with our children. We pray because, when we do, we recognize that we can not control their hearts, only God is able to do that. And in those moments we find rest from our futile efforts and worries.
The response to thinking our prayers make us holy is believing that we always pray imperfectly as sinners who can approach God in Jesus’ name.
When we are tempted to think of prayer as an obligation or when we feel guilty for not praying enough, we can pray Psalm 51 and remember that we are sinners who can boldly approach the throne of grace because our high priest, Jesus, has made a way for us.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
The 7 lies are adapted from Megan’s notes for the Child Dedication class. Our Child Dedication services are Sunday, October 21st. Come join in the celebration!