Praying Wrong

“We do not know how to pray as we ought.” —Romans 8:26

Many Christians have the feeling that they’re praying wrong (Jas 4:3), that they’re not praying as they ought. They think they’re saying the wrong words or that they need to pray more or say a certain series of prayers, but they are wrong about praying wrong. They may be praying wrong, but it’s not because of their words, methods, or even time commitment. When we pray “with a view to squandering what” we receive on our pleasures (Jas 4:3), we “ask wrongly.” We pray wrong not because of a faulty memory, halting speech, or confused mind, but because of a selfish heart.

Prayer is not getting God to give us what we want. It is God getting us to give Him what He wants. The essence of the Christian life and of prayer is denying ourselves (Lk 9:23). So we can definitely pray wrong, and it may be that most Christians often pray wrongly.

The solution to this problem is not learning techniques of prayer, praying prayers out of a book, or praying spontaneously. The way to stop praying wrong is to repent of selfishness, disobedience, and doing our own thing. Then even our groans will be powerful prayers pleasing to the Lord (see Rm 8:26).

PRAYER: Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like Yours so I will “pray right.”

PROMISE: “The saints will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let everyone heed what he hears!” —Mt 13:43

PRAISE: Praise the risen Jesus, only Hope for the world!

(From a reflection by a member of the editorial team of the late Fr Al Lauer’s Presentation Ministries)

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John Portelli

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