MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PRAYER
The relevance and significance of prayer in the life of the believers cannot be overemphasized. The efficacy of prayer is declining today, not because we are not praying more but because we are mostly praying amiss or wrongly.
The Scripture reveals that when we pray and don’t receive, we often pray amiss or wrongly.
James 4:3 – NKJV
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
But why do we often pray amiss or wrongly?
It is because we don’t know the Scriptures!
Matthew 22:29 – NLT
29 Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.
Many unscriptural beliefs, human traditions, and doctrines, misconceptions, and assumptions about prayer that we have imbibed and embraced are the major reasons why we pray amiss and why our prayers are not availing much today.
In this piece, we shall contrast scriptural truths about prayer with general misconceptions and beliefs about prayer.
First, the Believer’s Spiritual Power or Authority is not proportional to his Prayer Life:
It is generally believed and often said today that “A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian.” This statement presupposes that prayer is the source of the believer’s spiritual power or authority and that the believer’s power or authority is proportional to his prayer life.
As a result of this wrong but long-held belief, many believers today determine or measure their spiritual power or authority by the duration, volume, fervency, or frequency of their prayers.
What a mistaken belief!
The Scripture teaches that prayer makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.
James 5:16 – AMPC
- Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
However, the Scripture teaches that God’s tremendous power is available within the believers by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:19, Acts 1:8).
Acts 1:8 – NKJV
- But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Determining your spiritual power or authority by your prayer life demonstrates your faith in yourself (works) and not in Jesus Christ (grace). There is a great danger in determining or measuring your spiritual power or authority by your prayer life.
When your spiritual authority is made to depend on the duration, volume, fervency, or frequency of your prayers, you will not be able to wield your spiritual authority over the devil at all times and in all situations.
If your spiritual power or authority is rooted in or dependent on the length, volume, fervency, or frequency of your prayers, what happens when you are physically weak or sick to pray long, loud, and much as you usually do?
You will simply not have the faith, boldness, or confidence to resist the devil by wielding your spiritual authority!
What is the source of the believers’ spiritual power or authority?
Spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ!
The spiritual power or authority of the believers is derived from their spiritual union with Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in them.
Your spiritual authority as a believer is rooted in or dependent upon your relationship, spiritual union, or identity with Jesus Christ, not in your ability to pray long, loud, fervently, or frequently (Eph. 2:4-6, 1 Cor. 6:17).
Spiritual authority has been graciously conferred or bestowed upon all the believers in Christ. Sadly, not all believers today acknowledge, understand, or exercise their authority in Christ.
The Lord Jesus revealed this truth to His disciples.
Luke 10:19 – NKJV
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Therefore, being more prayerful (praying longer, louder, more fervently, or frequently) than others does not in any way increase your spiritual power or authority in Christ.
Conversely, spending less time in prayer does not diminish or reduce your spiritual power or authority in Christ, for your spiritual authority is based on your spiritual union or identity with Christ, and therefore it is always constant.
While prayer is of extreme importance in the believer’s life, praying more than other believers does not give you more supernatural power than others, for it is the same Holy Spirit abiding and working in all the believers (Eph. 4:4-6, 1 Cor. 12:10).
Although God’s supernatural power is available to all the believers in the same measure by the Holy Spirit; however, the measure of God’s power that each believer appropriates demonstrates or manifests in his life varies based on his faith and revelation knowledge of God’s truths. The variation is not from God; it is from us.
Second, the Efficacy of Prayer is not based on its Volume, Duration, Loudness, Repetition, or Frequency:
Sadly, as a result of wrong doctrines, misconceptions, or unscriptural beliefs about prayer, many believers today now think that the long, loud, acrobatic, effusive, and repetitive prayers they offer at a particular time or holy place are more powerful and effective than short and silent prayers of faith offered at anytime and anywhere.
The truth is that the efficacy of your prayer has nothing to do with the loudness or volume of your voice, the length or duration of your prayer, the frequency of your prayer, your emotion, gesticulation, position, or posture while praying, or the location where you pray.
The Scripture is replete with outstanding results produced by short prayers of faith (John 11:42-44, Luke. 7:11-15, Acts 9:38-41).
Praying very loud and long, praying at a specific time or place, positioning yourself in a certain way while praying, or repeating the same words in prayer several times don’t guarantee answers to your prayers. Similarly, praying in a particularly violent or aggressive manner is no guarantee that your prayers will be answered.
The Lord Jesus warns against the use of vain repetitions in prayer.
Matthew 6:7-8 – NKJV
7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Third, the Power of Prayer is not proportional to the Population of the People praying:
It is a fallacy to think that the efficacy of prayer is enhanced by an increase in the size or numbers of the believers praying on the same issue at the same time or place.
The power of prayer does not automatically increase with the increase in the population of the prayer warriors we assemble to pray on the same issue at the same time or place.
The Scripture clearly states, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
While there is a place for a prayer of agreement, the Scripture never said that the power of prayer is relatively proportional to the size or number of the people praying. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having prayer partners or people agreeing with you in prayers.
However, it is a sheer delusion to think that the more people you get to pray with you or for you, the greater the efficacy or power of the prayer and the quicker the results of the prayer.
God does not answer prayers based on sentiments. With God, it is not the majority that carries the vote. God is not moved by mere numbers (1 Sam. 14:6).
God cannot be subtly impressed, influenced, manipulated, coerced, or compelled to answer prayers by many people or voices saying the same thing at the same time at the same place.
Fourth, the Ultimate Purpose of Prayer is Fellowship with God:
It is a carnal mindset to make your prayers all about yourself—what you desire, want, or need. The primary purpose of prayer is fellowship, communion, or intimacy with God.
In the Garden of Eden, where and when there was no need or lack to ask God to supply or meet, and where and when there was no devil, sickness, or evil to pray against, yet the first man was in constant communion with God (Gen. 2:19, 3:8).
That reveals that the primary purpose of prayer transcends receiving something from God. The primary purpose of prayer is fellowship with God—beholding His glory and relishing His love and presence.
Fifth, Prayer is not Wrestling with God:
There is no reluctance or unwillingness on God’s side to answer the prayers of His children. We are the ones that are slow to receive from God because of our unbelief and ignorance of the things that have been freely given to us in Christ (Matt. 7:11, Rom. 8:32).
Sadly, due to wrong teachings and beliefs about prayer, many believers today consider prayer a means of wrestling with God or prevailing upon God to bless, heal, or deliver them.
The carnal mindset of seeing prayer as grappling and wrestling with God presupposes that God is reluctant to answer the prayers of His children or that God is very callous and insensitive to the plights and problems of His children.
Consequently, like the ungodly judge mentioned in Luke 18, God needs to be bothered, begged, persuaded, or motivated with vain repetitions, plenty of words, or prolonged fasting before He could be moved to hear, consider, answer or respond positively to His children’s cries.
What a slander and terrible picture of a Loving God!
What a travesty and mockery of the fatherhood of God!
Contrary to our carnal prayer mindset, the Scriptures portray God as a Loving Father whose love for His children is infinite, absolute, perfect, unconditional, everlasting, and sacrificial.
Was it not when we were ungodly that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins?
If God, therefore, freely gave us the greatest gift when we were sinners and far away from Him, why then will He delay or refuse to provide us with any good thing now that we are His children and in His Kingdom?
That is unthinkable!
Paul queries, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32 NKJV).
Sixth, Praise is an Integral Part of Prayer:
It is often said in our churches today, “If prayer fails, try praise.” This notion or belief presupposes that praise is entirely different from prayer and also more powerful than prayer.
That is a fallacy!
It is unscriptural to separate praise, worship, or thanksgiving from prayer, for praise is an inherent or integral part of prayer (Psa. 100:1-5).
When the early Disciples of Christ asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, He taught them to start their prayer with praise, worship, or adoration and to also end their prayer with the same.
Matthew 6:9-13 – NKJV
9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
In obedience to the Lord’s teaching on prayer, the early disciples always included praise, worship, adoration, and thanksgiving in their prayers (Acts 4:24, Eph. 1:15-16, Phil. 1:3-4, Col. 1:3, 1 Thess. 1:2).
Therefore, if we separate praise from our prayer today, we are either ignorant of the Lord’s teaching on prayer or disobedient to the Lord’s teaching on prayer.
Seventh, God has answered all our prayers in and through Jesus Christ:
There is no lack for believers in Christ, for believers are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. As a born-again believer, you now have unlimited access to all that God has through Christ.
Everything that you need or will ever need has been richly and freely given to you in and through Christ.
The Scripture amply states this truth.
Romans 8:16-17 – NKJV
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23 – NKJV
21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours.
23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Ephesians 1:3 – NKJV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
2 Peter 1:3 – RSV
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.
Therefore, it is simply ignorance or unbelief to seek to impress, propel or compel God to bless you or do anything for you through your prayers. In His love, God has anticipated all your needs and has already made abundant provisions for them to be fully met in Christ.
You cannot pressure God or motivate God to do anything for you through your prayers. God has already moved in love and in your favor through Jesus Christ to make all things available freely and abundantly to you.
Beloved, quit seeking to use your prayer and fasting to compel, motivate or pressurize God to give you anything or to do anything for you.
God has already granted you all things in Christ and done all things for you through Christ. Therefore, simply ask in faith and receive with thanksgiving your inheritance in Christ.
Mark 11:22-24 – NKJV
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
23 “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
It is time to change your mindset towards prayer and begin to see your time of prayer as not a time to wrestle with God for blessing but as a time for intimate fellowship or communion with your loving Heavenly Father to behold His glory and relish His love and presence.