I have a problem with and a growing concern about how I see Christians pray. I’ve seen myself and others fall into some bad praying habits….that I label as “Prayer Abuse”.
So, what types of prayers are an abuse of the God pleasing practice of praying to Him? The Answer: Prayers intended for and directed AT those around you, instead of prayers TO God. I’m talking about prayers intended to teach someone a lesson instead of prayers TO God.
Let me paint a picture of what I’m talking about. As I paint this picture, ask yourself if you have ever fallen into this incredibly bad prayer abuse habit.
You are a parent of little children who have absolutely driven you crazy all day long. They haven’t listened to you. They have been disobedient and disrespectful to you and their siblings. And now it’s time for family Dinner and the family dinner prayer.
It goes something like this: “Dear God, help my children be more respectful. Help them to love one another. Help them to realize that when they treat other people rudely or disrespectfully, they are disobeying you God. God, you command us to love one another, and when we don’t do that, we sin. God, please help my kids be more loving. Amen!”
What I’ve witnessed in group prayer situations is all too often a speech, chastisement, or teaching session directed at the listeners instead of a prayer focused on and to God
Now, on the surface, these might seem like reasonable “intercessory” prayers. And if you were in a private place praying just between you and God, I would say it would be perfectly fine. However, what I’ve witnessed in group prayer situations is all too often a speech, chastisement, or teaching session directed at the listeners instead of a prayer focused on and to God.
I think this is an abuse of prayer and I think it needs to stop. I’ve caught myself doing this with my kids, and I’ve got to stop too. I’m guilty of this abuse and as I work to eliminate this bad habit, I’m encouraging you to join me in praying more appropriately.
When we pray, let us pray TO God, and FOR God…not as a way of teaching or disciplining our kids. If you want to say those prayers to help your kids…great. Just do them in private as a conversation between you and God. If you want to teach your kids a lesson, have a conversation with them about the issue you are trying to correct. If you want some effective prayer on the issue, talk with your children and suggest THEY pray to God about their behavior, ask forgiveness, and ask God to help them.
So, who can join me in admitting that we sometimes abuse prayer in this way? Who will join me in resolving to stop praying this way?
If you do, leave a comment and also share how this might change the way you pray with your families.