Today we're wrapping up a 3-part series on how performance-culture infects our prayer life. In week one, we talked about our need to slow down and enjoy God in prayer.
Last week, we discussed two ways faulty thinking distorts prayer into a performance-trap.
Faulty Prayer Thought #1 — I shouldn't be distracted.
Faulty Prayer Thought #2 — I can't focus.
This week, let's round out the list.
Faulty prayer Thought #3 — I'm so bad at this
When we get quiet, our inner critic climbs on his/her soapbox.
Our inner dialogue can turn up the volume when we pray.
You're terrible at this.
God isn't listening.
God doesn't care.
We swim in overly-serious prayer while our Father sings over us in delight (Zephaniah 3:15-17). The best way to combat these self-condemning voices is with self-compassion.
Here are a few ways to defuse self-criticism during prayer:
Name and talk to your inner-critic. Hello, Francis, I hear you again. I'm probably not doing as poorly as you think. Thanks for the feedback, though.
Remember Jesus and Martha. Jesus didn't rebuke Martha for her busy head, heart, and hands that kept her from Him. Instead, Jesus invited her to enjoy His presence like Mary (Luke 10:41-42). An open-invitation awaits us as well.
Jesus is compassionate with us; so, we can lighten up on the self-condemnation.
Faulty Prayer Thought #4 — I'm wasting my time
Have you ever thought this? You pray and feel like nothing happened. And you ask yourself, Was that worth the effort?
So much happens to us when we pray. Imagine your soul is like a stone, and prayer is like streams of grace washing over you. The change is imperceptible at the moment but drastic over a lifetime.
Here's a T.I.P. Early in my marriage, I was all in a hurry to constantly grow in our marriage. I wore my poor wife out. Fifteen beautiful years later, I'm more relaxed. Relationships thrive when we hold them with relaxed intentionality Desire/effort to grow + patience for the process = relaxed intentionality. It's the same with prayer. We need to learn a Tension In Prayer — Seek the Lord in prayer while settling into (and even learning to enjoy) waiting on the Lord (Psalm 27:8, 13-14).
Friends, God loves you, and He wants you to experience His love (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 3:14-19).
We can experience God's fear-dispelling, love-filled presence through prayer. But we receive this love rather than earning it.
With that said, let's pray!
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