When we abuse prayer… Pt. 2
by Brenda Kuseski
(This is a continuation of last week’s article by Brad Long and Doug McMurray, directors of Presbyterian and Reformed Ministries.) They point out that we can fall into the habit of praying “loveless, faithless, hopeless, and decorative” prayers. This concludes their discussion:
Of course God wants us to be truthful with Him and to express our honest feelings. Prayer cannot be all “positive confession.” In the Psalms, for example, David often truthfully cried out his fears, doubts, and wounded spirit…. But in those Psalms, you will see that they almost always move into faith, hope, love, and praise at the end (See Ps. 7; 13; 22; 55-57, for example.)
The Antidote for Useless Prayer
Pray the Scriptures, especially the promises of God. Philippians 4:8 commands us to think on “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—anything excellent or praiseworthy.” Contrast the vulture and the hummingbird. They fly the same airspace, but one looks for bright and beautiful flowers and is attracted to such things to feed from. The other looks for the dead, the rotten, and the foul, and is attracted to them for food. Be a hummingbird.
Confess negative and destructive speech as sin. Confession can prepare us for prayer by cleansing us of wrong attitudes that will affect our prayers. Otherwise, our prayers can be exercises of spiritual pride, as though it’s only everyone else who needs prayer, and not ourselves.
Praise, praise, praise! Praise focuses your attention on the beauty, power, and sufficiency of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. David declared that he only desired one thing: to dwell in the presence of God, “to behold His beauty and inquire in His tabernacle” (Ps. 27:4). Your own needs and requests will be shaped and purified by a new perspective.
Receive all things with thanksgiving. (Phil.4:6) Like praise, thanksgiving is a good place to start because it cleanses foul moods that would otherwise pollute our prayers. A thankful heart prepares us for what follows.
Adapted from Prayer that Shapes the Future