Certain misconceptions about prayer keep us from experiencing the full power available. These misconceptions keep us focused in the wrong direction and contribute to prayer fatigue. Let's examine just a few of these.Misconception: Prayer is to convince God to implement our ideas.
Some pray as if prayer will give God new information or inspire Him to new ideas. Some approach prayer as if it is the responsibility of the petitioner to decide what God needs to do and then talk Him into doing it. This kind of pray-er sees himself as constantly having to overcome God’s objections, or His inertia, or His procrastination. This person feels that God always starts out against him and must be won over. Prayer of this kind pits the pray-er against God. It feels like a battle of wills.
As with every misconception about prayer, this error causes the praying person to expend spiritual energy needlessly. The person who prays in this way tends to look for the right formula, or the right words to say, or the right order in which to say them. This person is always on a quest to find the approach to God that will finally get Him to act.
This person believes the myth that it is hard to get God to answer prayer. The truth is that God longs to do His work on earth in response to prayer. Prayer is His idea. God thought up prayer, not humans.
God answers prayer, but He doesn’t follow instructions. God corrects those who attempt to instruct Him. “Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13–14). However, God loves our prayers. He rejoices in them. They bring Him pleasure. They are a sweet-smelling aroma to Him (Revelation 5:8; Psalm 141:2).
Power praying happens when God, who longs to give, is met by man, who longs to receive. God is the initiator. He made promises and invited petition. The secret to power praying lies not in how to ask, but in how to receive. Misconception: Prayer is to hold God to His promises.
Some pray as if God forgets or tries to renege on His promises and is depending on pray-ers to remind Him of them. God does not need to be reminded of His promises. He made promises and bound Himself to us in a blood-sealed covenant so that we would know exactly what we could expect from Him. God made promises to us in order to stir up hope and expectation so that we would have reason to turn to Him. The purpose of His promises is to give us confidence and peace. Instead, sometimes we pray as if we are responsible for finding the scriptural promise that can be construed as guaranteeing the outcome we have prescribed, then taking that promise to God to hold Him to His Word.
This kind of pray-er treats God’s Word as if it were a catalog. He decides what God should do, looks through the Bible to find a verse that will match that plan, and orders it. In doing so, as in catalog shopping, the pray-er skims over everything that holds no appeal. He picks and chooses.
Remember, Scripture is not God’s words; it is God’s Word. Scripture is a whole and cannot be cut apart and pasted together to match my agenda. His Word is not a catalog. It is His promise in writing.
When we approach prayer this way—as if God might try to get out of meeting our need, but since we have His promise, we can hold Him to it—we become drained of energy and suffer from prayer fatigue. What a burden it is for me to search the Scripture and find exactly the right verse to bring to God’s attention. Instead, as I turn my heart and my mind toward Him, He reminds me of His promises. He reminds me of what I can count on. The promises are not for me to use in getting my way with God, but they are for God to use to inspire faith and confidence within me.
From Live a Praying Life Anniversary Edition
by Jennifer Kennedy Dean