I posted this on the pastor's update on our church webpage, and thought it would be a good follow up the post on Rightly Approaching Prayer.
In considering prayer, I believe there are two traps that are easy for all of us to fall into. They are the guilt trap, and the task trap; and the two go hand in hand.
It is way too easy to make prayer a task, an item on our to do list, something to get done. And when it becomes something to get done, it becomes something to get marked off and get out of the way. When we make prayer a task, then it becomes something that we must do for God. When this is our motive for prayer, our prayers become rote, mechanical, and we are robbed of the joy and enjoyment of prayer. When prayer becomes a task to be accomplished it is one step away from becoming a form of legalism in our life.
When anything becomes a legalism in our life, we have then set ourselves up for guilt. And what happens when we feel guilty about something? Don’t we usually avoid being around the person towards whom we feel guilty? When we start feeling guilty about not praying, instead of motivating us to pray, it almost inevitably demotivates us as we start avoiding coming into the Lord’s presence. The more avoidance the more the guilt; and the more the guilt the more the avoidance. It becomes a self-defeating cycle.
How do we avoid these two traps? We avoid them by having a right understanding of prayer, and why we should pray. In no particular order here are a few reasons we should pray, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
1. It is one of the means God has ordained in the accomplishment of His will.
2. It is one of the ways we can participate in the accomplishment of His will.
3. It is one of the ways we draw near to Him.
4. It is one of the ways we fellowship with Him.
5. It is one of the ways we encourage and build others up.
6. It is one of our weapons in spiritual warfare.
7. It is one of the means to an abundant spiritual life.
8. It is the means through which we confess sin.
9. It is one of the means of building unity in the body.
10. It is how we talk to God.
Let’s avoid the task trap and the guilt trap, and simply look forward to being with the Lord in prayer, and remember He desires to be with us as well.