Stuck In Your Prayer Life? Me too.

I don’t like eating the same thing all the time. I read different kinds of books to prevent getting in a rut. I get bored with the routine of life. In all this I don’t think that I’m that uncommon. Most of us find life more interesting and ourselves more engaged in it if we have a little variety.

The same holds true in my prayer life but for some reason I’m slower to see it. When I pray (which isn’t as often as I should), I tend to pray the same things for myself, my family, and the church. It’s not that those prayers are bad or unbiblical. It’s just that I tend to fall into a routine and then wonder why I’m less motivated to pray. If I ate pizza every night for dinner, I’m sure that I would get tired of it. I’d still eat it because I’d be hungry but I wouldn’t look forward to it as much as I once did.

My go to prayer include asking God to give me and those I care about a deeper love for Jesus, that we would see Jesus as our greatest treasure, that our eyes would be opened so that we would see his beauty and glory and truth and mercy and grace and therefore want to follow him. That’s a good prayer (just like pizza is a good meal) but even a good prayer can get stale.

One of the ways that I’ve tried to fight against routine in my prayer life that often breeds boredom and apathy is by praying prayers that others have written. If you’re like me, your first response might be to brush off that idea off as kind of weird. Aren’t prayers supposed to be authentic and heartfelt and is that really possible if you’re praying prayers that others have written? Personally I’ve found that I have an amazing ability to make anything inauthentic. In other words, I have the ability to take a good thing (in this case praying) and turn it into something that I’m doing by just “going through the motions”. So I don’t think that prayers that are “spontaneous” and “off the cuff” prevent that from happening. And, like I’ve already said, I’ve found that my prayers tend to be repetitive. It’s almost like I’m praying the prayer that I “wrote” the day, weeks, and months before.

The source of written prayers that is probably used most by the pastors and staff at The Crossing is The Valley of Vision. It’s not uncommon for one of these prayers to show up in a worship service. Another well liked resource is Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith. This has one prayer for each day of the year and covers all kinds of topics. Barbara Duguid (author of the popular Extravagant Grace) has a book of prayers called Prone To Wander. I haven’t used it yet but I’m sure it’s good. The subtitle is Prayers of Confession and Celebration.

The main way that these books help me is that they expand my “prayer menu” and therefore help me offer different kinds of prayers to God. They help me make my prayers more “biblical” because in addition to making my requests known to God, they encourage me to praise God and confess my sins and lament over the unfortunate realities of life in a fallen world. I’ve also noticed that these prayers help me put into words feelings that I have toward God but have difficulty expressing. Lastly, because these prayers were written by godly Christians, they teach me important spiritual truths. I learn while I pray.

If, like me, you get stuck in your prayer life, I’d encourage you to explore one of these prayer books.

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