PRAY: No More Prayer-Guilt, Part I
Why do guilt and prayer so often intertwine? We feel guilty when we don’t pray enough. We feel guilty when we promise to pray for someone and forget. We feel guilty when we need prayer. We feel guilty when our prayers don’t sound as profound as those of the person next to us in the prayer group.
Do you see the pattern? Satan uses guilt to pull our focus away from God and onto ourselves. I’m learning (albeit slowly) to turn away from that kind of guilt and toward Jesus. When I sin, I seek to confess and forsake it. But I refuse to dwell on guilt when I could pursue my loving Father instead.
I use some simple memory tools as a part of my war against prayer-guilt. First, I Do the Math. That means I divide my regular prayer requests up among the days of the week or month—or sometimes hours of the day. I know I can’t pray as effectively if I try to cover too many needs at one time, so I don’t—and I don’t feel guilty, either.
For years, our family has prayed for missionary friends and for the nations they serve on different days of the weeks (Americas on Monday, Europe on Tuesday, etc.). I follow the same practice in my personal prayer life. It’s been interesting through the years to see the exciting things God has done on the days and at the times we’ve prayed! You can do the same with requests for friends at church, from work, etc. Divide them up—and multiply the effectiveness of your prayers.
I’ve also found a way to become Guiltless by Association, tying tangible objects to my prayers for specific people or situations. When a dear friend was going through treatment for breast cancer, a little brown Pink Ribbon bear sat on my computer monitor. When my fuzzy buddy caught my eye, I prayed for my friend. Another friend who served as a missionary in a closed country made me a bookmark. Its presence in my Bible reminded me to lift her up. Once again, grace replaced guilt. The result? More prayers—and more power.
The bonus blessing of those prayer cues is that one prayer leads to more. The math and the objects may have prompted my prayers—but the best memory tool was the prayers themselves. Prayer, like other habits, becomes stronger over time. That’s a great way to eliminate prayer-guilt. And unlike many other habits, it’s one you won’t want to break.
As you can see, I use simple tools for a simple heart and mind. What prayer prompters help you? Share them, and we’ll learn together.