How NOT to Pray

For those of us that grew up in a Christian home, we were taught to start our prayers with “Dear God” and finish them with “Amen,” sandwiching words of thanksgiving, concerns, and requests for guidance or help. Did you know Jesus made it clear that there are some ways we are NOT to pray?
God does not expect us to be perfect to come to him in prayer, but he does expect us to be honest. Prayer should be the place where we meet God honestly and openly. The Bible tells us that the prayers that God does not accept are the prayers of hypocrisy.

4 Traps That Are Killing Your Prayer Life

1. Prayers That Are Spoken to Pat Ourselves on the Back (Luke 18:9–14).

“Dear Lord, thank you that I was more gracious to my son’s teacher than the other parents…”
“God, thank you that I’m not like my coworker who’s constantly looking for approval…”
Or the example straight out of the Bible:

“God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.”—Luke 18:11

2. Prayers That Are Prayed All the While Ignoring God’s Instructions (Psalm 66:18–20).

God cares about whether we are following him and how we are treating others, rather than if we are simply “going through the motions” of prayer. Those prayers end up being empty and hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable. —Proverbs 28:9
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.—Hosea 6:6

3. Prayers That Are For Selfish Reasons

God knows all desires and no secret is hidden from him. Real prayer is an attitude of the heart (1 Thess. 5:16–18).

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.—James 4:2–3

4. Prayers That Are Long and Loud to Get Attention and Admiration from Other People

‘Nuff said.

When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!—Matthew 6:5–8 NLT

Also see Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47.
This month we’re dedicated to studying and reflecting on prayer because of National Prayer Day! Don’t miss our other posts on:

“What the Bible Says about Prayer” Pamphlet

What the Bible Says About Prayer Pamphlet offers help for Christians who want to know how to pray more effectively. What the Bible Says About Prayer Pamphlet will help you understand the power of prayer and will help you experience the peace that comes from a deeper communication with God. God cares about you and wants a relationship with you through prayer.This booklet covers the basics of Christian prayer

  • How to pray to God
  • How to pray for your needs and others’ needs
  • The ACTS Method of Prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication
  • How Jesus prayed
  • What to do when God seems silent

Deepen your understanding of prayer. This helpful pamphlet will help you experience the peace that comes from diving into a deeper communication with God, feeling comfortable praying to God, and knowing how to pray and what to pray.
14 panels, fits inside most Bibles, 8.5 x 5.5 inches, unfolds to 38 inches long

What the Bible Says About Prayer Teaches You the Basics of Christian Prayer

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  • Phrase-by-phrase analysis of the Lord’s Prayer
  • What to do when waiting for an answer
  • Types of prayers God does not accept

What the Bible Says About Prayer Helps Answer Questions about Prayer

Questions about God and Prayer

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  • Do some people get special access to God?
  • Why didn’t God answer my prayer?
  • Is there an incorrect way to pray? Did I pray the wrong way?
  • Are there prayers that God doesn’t accept?

Question about How to Pray

  • Should we always keep praying?
  • Is there a prayer technique that will get you what you want?
  • Why pray at all?
  • Is prayer a form of worship?
  • What if I don’t know what to pray?
  • How do I pray without ceasing?

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