14 Ways to Sabotage Your Prayer Life

January 04 2019
January 04 2019

The beginning of a new year is a great time to take stock of where we stand in terms of prayer.  So, in keeping with C. S. Lewis's inverted approach in The Screwtape Letters (click here for a sampling of quotations from Screwtape), allow me to recommend fourteen ways to sabotage your prayer life:

  1. Pray only when you feel like it.  Disregard any fanatic ideas of praying “day and night” or “without ceasing.”
  2. Try to impress God with pious prayer performances so that you can win maximum spiritual credit.
  3. Pray publicly with an eye to exhibiting your “spiritual maturity” for others to admire.
  4. Let your prayers degenerate into mindless repetitions.  Re­cycle the same old phrases even when your mind is far away.
  5. Imagine that it taxes God’s ability to meet your needs and respond in the best possible way to your prayers.
  6. Convince yourself that God doesn’t really care about you and your silly little struggles and trials and tears anyhow.
  7. Pretend that God doesn’t like to be bothered, and that he’s “put out” by your numerous cries and appeals.
  8. View prayer as a way of putting God’s arm behind his back.
  9. Demand instant results.  Dismiss the idea that God would have you persevere in prayer, or that your loving Heavenly Father might be free to answer, “No.”
  10. Imagine that prayer won’t make any difference.
  11. Shrink prayer by equating it with asking.  So bypass all that fluff (like praise, confession, lament, thanksgiving) and go straight to the real thing:  your wish list.
  12. Reserve the worst hours of your day for prayer.  This way you can give to God what has the least value to you.
  13. Think of prayer as doing God a favor.
  14. Reduce prayer to a mental exercise, a sort of self-therapy to put the mind at ease, and in this way remove God from the picture entirely.  How about that, prayer without God!


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