Prayer is an extremely important part of being a Christian. Christianity is a relationship between the person and God. That means that there must be communication. That often takes place in the context of prayer.
However, if I was to invite a person to pray, there are a number of things that would take place without even thinking. None of them are wrong, but they are also not essential to prayer, even though people treat them that way.
Here are five myths about prayer:
- You need to close your eyes and bow your head. Where does it say that in the Bible? You can bow, but there are other examples where people look up to heaven as they pray. I actually find I can concentrate better when someone else is praying if I look at them rather than closing my eyes.
- You need to say “in Jesus’ name” at the end of the prayer. Yes Christians are to pray in Jesus’ name, but that does not mean saying those words. Praying in Jesus’ name is a personal acknowledgment that our access to the Father is through our faith in Jesus.
- You need to say “amen” at the end of the prayer. This just seems to be a given and yet you will have difficulty finding a lot of biblical prayers that end with amen. Saying “amen” is not like hitting send on an email. The prayer will make it to God, with or without saying amen.
- Prayer is only about asking God for things. Many see prayer as equivalent to offering our wish list to God. There are many other ways to pray, such as adoration, confession and thanksgiving. It can be rewarding to have a time of prayer where you don’t ask for anything.
- Prayer should not be about asking for things. The opposite of the previous myth is also a problem. Some people see supplication prayer as selfish and that a good Christian would not ask for things for themselves. The problem is that biblical prayers are full of requests to God. Read the prayers of Jesus and you see the Son of God asking his Father for things. Refusing to seek God’s help is actually a sign of pride.
These are just some of the myths that go along with prayer. It is important to pray but it is also important to reflect on why we pray the way we pray.