3 Prayer Mistakes I’m Trying to Learn From

Prayer is a mystery to me in so many ways. Like math or the rules of Cricket, or why people like cats is a mystery.

But I keep doing it.

I keep talking to God because He says it’s a good idea and it reminds me of who and whose I am.

As I pray, I think I get it “wrong” a lot, but I picture God smiling patiently, still glad I’m showing up. Like my dad used to do when I tried to build something out of wood alongside him at the basement workbench. He was glad I was down there with him, but I had a lot to learn.

When it comes to prayer, I have a lot to learn.

Here are three mistakes I’ve become aware that I make when I pray:

1. I pray stupid, safe prayers for what I already have. For years I prayed that God would “be with” so and so, before I realized how crazy that is!  I’ve ranted about this before.   I get praying that someone would sense the presence and power of God that is there, but WHY do we pray that God would “be with” someone??? He IS! It’s a done deal! A sure thing! A winning bet!  He says “I will never leave or forsake you.” and “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Are we afraid He needs an easy win so we pray with a “You’ve got this” wink?  

Or I default to praying that God would “bless” so and so. “Bless” is nice, but what exactly is it that we’re talking to God about? Do we really think about it, or just throw it out there as a filler because we can’t come up with anything else?

I wonder if our “small” prayers are an offense to a big God.

2. I focus on the ME instead of THEE. I can obsess about MY specific “prayer request” (read: Amazon order) instead of asking God what He wants. I talk more than listen, demand more than submit, boss more than comply. Somehow I think we’ve gotten the idea that faith means faith in our prayer rather that faith in God. If we grit our teeth and think lovely thoughts like, “MY will be done because I have faith!” that will ensure prayer “success.”

3. I don’t pay enough attention to the many ways God shows up, shows off, and shows grace in response to my prayers. We have been praying for HEALING for my brother David, but if we’re not careful we’ll miss the LIFE that God gives every day. David and his wife Susan model this in authentically being grateful for the ways He shows up in a hug, in the strength to take a step, in life-giving texts of encouragement, in helping hands, in the the counsel from His Word, the resource of doctors, a day without pain. While waiting for the one BIG thing, we miss so many little graces.

Well that’s my list (for now). What are you learning about prayer?



  1. I have to remind myself regularly that I don’t need to be in a certain place or a certain mood to talk to God. I am learning how important listening to Him is, learning to be still and know.

    • Thank you Opal! Isn’t it great that God doesn’t require any particular words or place or emotion, but just invites us to come to Him any time, anywhere?
      And Yes, stillness is as much a part of prayer as speaking isn’t it? In any loving relationship we lean in and listen to the heart of the other.

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