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How NOT to Pray

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

We all know we should pray, but yet many of us still don’t...or at least not as much as we should. Even when we do pray, we rarely think about HOW we pray. Here is a list DON’Ts when it comes to prayer.


  • Pray “Name it, Claim it” prayers, which essentially treat God like a cosmic vending machine. We already know this should not be our model for prayer.

  • Pray in a ritualistic manner. The Lord’s Prayer is beautiful and meaningful, but not if it’s done in ONLY a ritualistic way. Jesus warned us against such kinds of prayer. When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” — Matthew 6:7–8

  • Pray to be seen/heard. How often have we changed the way we pray just because we are around others? We want to look good or sound intelligent, we might even change our voice. Jesus called out this type of praying. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” — Matthew 6:5

  • Pray to Mary, the Saints or dead people. We are never encouraged by the Bible to pray to anyone other than God. And yet, how many are praying to dead people? Jesus calls us to pray to “Our Father in Heaven…” I was raised in a tradition were we were encouraged to pray to Mary. But the reality is that no where in the Scriptures are we called to do this.

  • Pray unbalanced prayers. Let’s be honest - most of our prayers tend to revolve around asking God for something. There is nothing wrong with asking God for help! But there is much more to prayer than merely asking. We should spend time in Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. [Think of A.C.T.S. as an outline]

  • Pray “Fire-Hydrant” prayers. Sadly, too many people use prayer as the last ditch effort to get help from pain, emergency or crisis. We have the attitude that “it has gotten so bad that we need to pray.” Maybe we should pray sooner rather than later. Maybe we should pray for God’s wisdom before we buy a house, get engaged, or choose a college.

  • Pray only for yourself. If we are honest, many of the prayers we offer are for our own behalf. But we are encouraged to pray for others, even people we don’t know. "Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." — Hebrews 13:3

  • Count on the Pastor to do all the praying because "prayer by the pastor is the best." Do we really believe that pastors have a hotline to God? Maybe your godly grandmother or mother is as faithful a prayer warrior as your pastor. God gives us equal access because of the sacrifice of Jesus. We can all enter into His presence…“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” — Hebrews 4:16

In the end, prayer is just talking to God about everything, at all times, with all kinds of prayers. Prayer is a conversation you can always have with your Father in Heaven. Prayer is a privilege granted to every Christian. Together, let’s work to be better pray-ers. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” — Ephesians 6:18

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