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Phil,
Is it a good idea to analyze or study one's own prayers to become more effective?
I have gotten different feedback from my Christian friends most of them negative.
From your point of view, Is this a worthy endeavor?"

It seems To Me . . .

  • Evaluating your own prayers in order to congratulate yourself ("I give myself a 9 out of 10!") or to review and edit them so they sound eloquent or scholarly - not a good idea. We do not trust in our prayers. I disagree with the statement: "prayer works." Instead we trust in the God to whom we pray. Many religions pray but to whom are they praying? Many pagans "pray" longer or "better" than I do. Prayer doesn't work; the one to whom we pray, works. When we pray. Its a partnership.
  • I do believe it is valuable to analyze your prayer habits and patterns as long as you use Scripture as the model. Study your praying to discern if you are praying correct theology. Analyze your prayers by comparing them to Daniel (chapter 9) and Paul (almost each of his epistles); certainly Jesus' teachings about prayer.
  • For those who disagree, why is it a good idea to reimagine our worship ("sing a new song") or think differently about our evangelism methods but not a good idea when it comes to praying? The quest to pray like Jesus is a lifelong journey toward maturity that would greatly benefit from a review that refreshes our praying. Maybe the one who benefits most is God, as our silly repetitions or simplistic requests fade into a conversation that is birthed in the heart of our Father in heaven, discerned through the leading of the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the name of Jesus.
  • One more comment. Maybe the question should be: "Is it wise to have others in the Body of Christ help me analyze my praying?" Corporate praying is a test of our personal prayer life (which, sadly, is why so many long-term Christians are silent in group prayer). If you are in a group with believers who truly trust in God, express their love for Jesus and are yielded to the Holy Spirit, then ask them "How can I improve my prayer life? What are my strengths? (in other words, what spiritual gifts flow out through your prayers; what fruit of the Spirit is most evident when you are praying?) What are my weaker habits? (you repeat "_____ _____" twenty times in every prayer)
  • Start here:
    • Ask - the Lord to teach you to pray more fervently and effectively (James 5:16)
    • Seek - be still and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit
    • Knock - when you are clear as to his leading, follow into scripture or a study guide or a conversation with someone who can mentor you in prayer

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Comment by Phil Miglioratti on November 22, 2018 at 12:45pm

Good stuff from each of you.

May our thanksgiving prayers be powerful and effective!

Phil

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on November 22, 2018 at 11:04am

Alvin VanderGriend's book "Patterns for Prayer" follows a pattern somewhat like this but provides specific suggestions for prayer along these lines for each day - it's basically a 365-day prayer devotional that encourages prayer along the lines of an outline somewhat like this, with specifics that are different each day so that you're not praying the same things over and over.

Comment by Paul "Mike" Kadow on November 22, 2018 at 10:47am

Analyzing one's own prayers, here are some things to consider as you analyze your prayer life.

Prayers should consist of:

  1. Praise and Worship – why? The more time you spend in Praise and Worship and Thanksgiving the more insignificant your wants and desires will seem.

One should expand their concept of God. One way is to study some of the attributes of God. Here are some attributes: The Trinity, The Incarnation, Infinitude, Solitariness, Self-Existence, Immensity, Immutability, Transcendence, Immanence, Knowledge, Foreknowledge, Supremacy,  Sovereignty, Holiness,  Omnipresence,  Power, Patience,  Wrath,  Love, Goodness,  Justice,  Mercy, Grace,  Perfection,  Wisdom, and  Faithfulness. For reference see The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink and The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer.

  1. Thanksgiving – why? As one practices the art of Thanksgiving, that person is profoundly changed from the inside out to better appreciate God and His creation. I Thessalonians 5:18
  2. Confession of sins – through the blood of Christ we have access to God's throne of grace. Hebrews 4:16, I John 1:9
  3. Prayer for others – this will allow you to reach out through prayer to the entire world.
  4. Prayer for self

 

How to address God? It might help to learn the various ways of addressing God. Here are some:

My Lord, My God, Father or Abba Father, Savior, Jesus, Jehovah, Yahweh, Sovereign one, Majesty, Triune God, Infinite One, Self-Existent One, Holy One, Eternal One, Almighty God, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

In your prayer should you pray for what God has already promised? Like "Lord be with so and so". Or only pray for things God has not promised?  This is a question you need to work out for yourself.

Ensure you are asking in faith, James 1:6.

In praying I have noticed some that use the word "Lord" as a conjunction between phrases. "Lord" is our God and should not be used as a grammar conjunction.

Your prayer should consist of the numbered points above, it should not consist of a list of wants and desires. It is a relationship not a list of give me-s.

Don't think of prayers so much as changing God's mind but changing your character.

I would like to suggest that you spend at least as much time in Praise, Worship, and Thanksgiving as you do on your list of wants and needs.

Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on November 21, 2018 at 8:13pm

I do analyze my own prayers and also the prayers of others.  I find it helpful to recognize and adapt some of the habits and patterns others use in prayer.  The founding pastor of the church I attended in Crystal Lake never used the phrase "I pray that you will...".  He was much more direct in his prayer; I don't know if he did this intentionally, but he pretty much never used the word "I" in prayer.  It was always, "God, would you...".  I found this extraordinarily helpful as a way of keeping my own prayers more concise and more God-focused as opposed to me-focused.

That said, as one who analyzes prayer and teaches on corporate prayer, I can be trapped into becoming a bit judgmental on the prayer patterns of others who tend to pray in more self-centered ways, etc.  I find that I can be distracted from entering into their prayers and praying alongside them because part of my mind is analyzing how they're praying.  It's something I struggle against consciously.

Comment by Phil Miglioratti on November 21, 2018 at 7:54am

Thanks for replying .. and disagreeing, Mike. I learn as much from a different perspective as I do from someone who agrees with me.

Your example is helpful - and I totally agree with you analyzing what you focus on when you pray so that you can recalibrate if too much of your focus is on yourself.

If you have time, it would benefit me if you'd identify other points I shared that you do not agree with me on.

I am always grateful for healthy dialog; thanks for starting a good one,

Phil

Comment by Paul "Mike" Kadow on November 21, 2018 at 5:36am

If I may give one example,

In studying my prayers I find out I am spending 90% of my time praying for myself,

Or if I don't spend any time at all in praise and thanksgiving

then I have a problem. This is what I am talking about.

Comment by Paul "Mike" Kadow on November 21, 2018 at 5:24am

I must say I disagree with you,
I only want to study my prayers to become better at it, that is all.

-Mike

Comment by Vicki Normoyle on November 20, 2018 at 6:43pm

Thank you for the reminder that it isn’t prayer that works but God who, in some miraculous way, works through our prayers.

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