The Perfect Prayer

When someone first told me I needed to “pray daily” I thought that my prayers had to be wordy, thoughtful, and worthy of God. After all, this was what my college pastor, my mentor, my therapist, and my friends all did. But is this what God expects of me everytime I pray to Him? That’s a big fat, NO. I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize this. How many times I would pray in front of people or to myself, and feel an anxiousness wash over me as I racked my brain for the right “Christian” words to use. No one ever asked me to use words like atonement, tribulation, or intercession. No one asked that my prayers would be “perfect” or that I wouldn’t stumble over words and say “um” 7 billion times. (Okay, that last one is an exaggeration.) What God does ask of us is that we pray daily! This doesn’t mean pray perfectly daily. 

I asked one of the middle school girls I mentor to “pray out” one Wednesday night, and y’all...I thought she was gonna have a panic attack from being so scared to pray out loud. One of her friends volunteered to pray for her, and she breathed a sigh of relief. I asked her why she was so nervous when we were alone later and she said “My prayers aren’t good enough.” Let that sink in. A 13-year-old somehow was unintentionally (I hope) taught that because she stumbled over her words or didn’t use the typical “Christianese” language, her prayers weren’t GOOD enough. I’m not sure anyone has ever made a rubric for a perfect prayer, and if they have, don’t show it to me because I will definitely not meet the criteria. After learning about this insecurity, I looked back at the prayers I had made in our group setting and realized I was fueling this fire. I had most likely made it seem that my prayers were well-thought out and intelligent speeches. After that encounter, I stopped preparing and I let the words flow. There was a lot of “um” and backtracking, but through that I was able to show my middle schoolers that it doesn’t matter how perfectly or jumbled your words string together, just that you “pray daily.”

Without prayer, our souls and our faith will suffer. Without prayer, we’re not giving God even the opportunity to show us how he’s working directly in our lives. Prayer is necessary. But, don’t let “necessary” guilt you into kneeling by your bed each night without heart. Let it push you forward into asking God for things, small and large, so He can show you how He performs miracles. John 16:24 says “Ask and you shall receive..” Let God show you this verse in action! 

To be honest, I find it hard to pray in quiet, I find it hard to pray with noises, I find it hard to pray no matter what my surroundings are, I think it’s always been this way. It takes time to find your “prayer niche.” For me, it’s writing my prayers down since my train of thought is off the rails 90% of the time. For you, it could be praying out loud, praying with worship music in the background, or praying in the absolute quiet. God made us all differently, and we worship Him in all sorts of ways, thank Him for this! 

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” - James 5:13


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