– William Law
Devotional: The Right and Wrong Way to Pray
Did you know there is a right and a wrong way to pray? Jesus said that when we pray, we should pray with certain guidelines in mind. He didn’t say that we should use the Lord’s Prayer as an unchanging template, but we should have the same general guidelines of the Lord’s Prayer when we pray.
Above all else, prayer is really about you opening up your heart and putting your trust in Jesus. It’s supposed to be a heart to heart conversation. A prayer is really a moment of vulnerability, a moment of truly opening up, and a moment of honesty. It’s when you speak your heart to God’s heart.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get caught up in our own needs and our own challenges that the focus of prayer is overlooked. Prayer becomes all about us and getting us out of the hole that we are in. This is where prayer goes wrong.
When you wrap your mind around William Law’s quote, nowhere does it say that prayer has to be about you and your needs. Nowhere in that quote does it say that prayer is all about you. That’s praying the wrong way.
God Isn’t a Genie
God exists for his owns reasons. There are God’s ways, and there are human ways.
Those two ways are never to be confused with each other. God has His own reason. When we try to put Him in a box where we basically keep asking things from Him, we turn Him into basically a genie.
God doesn’t exist to just answer our wishes. God doesn’t exist to make our lives better. Does He make our lives better? Absolutely. But that is not His core.
Similarly, the Bible is not a set of magical incantations. The reason those promises, over one thousand of them, are crammed into the Bible is because of what God’s plan is for your life. That plan, not surprisingly, has little to do with your material plans, your needs, and your requirements. Instead, it’s all about salvation, the ultimate need and reason why Christ came to earth.
God Wants to Know You
A prayer is an opportunity for God to truly know you based on your own communication with Him. Does God know you already? Absolutely. He sees everything; He can see and read your heart. However, He would also like to hear from you based on who you think you are. God wants to listen to you and wants to have a real relationship with you.
A real relationship goes two ways. You don’t really have a real relationship when there’s only one person doing the talking in the relationship, right? In the same way, when you are praying to God and you’re just constantly asking stuff from Him and always talking about yourself, that’s not real communication.
In many cases, you have to be still and let God be. Let Him talk to your heart. You would be surprised as to the things that God has to say. All it takes is just calming down and letting God do the talking.
When you do talk, talk to God like a friend. God is not very big with formalities; God isn’t big with rituals and formulas. Talk to God like a friend with real emotions. Express the real you.
It’s okay to show emotions with God. It’s okay to get angry; God can handle it. In fact, there are many verses in the Bible where prophets and people that people that God has sent, became angry with Him. But, it’s okay.
What’s important is emotional honesty. There is no emotional distance between you and God. You don’t need to put in emotional clothes when you talk to God. There’s no need to put on an act. You can be completely emotionally naked with God and just speak from the heart. That’s the kind of relationship He wants from you. That’s the right way to pray.