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Turning Superficial Prayers into Genuine Conversations

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Putting on the mask of superficiality started young for me. I was in kindergarten and it was circle time. My teacher asked,

“What is your favorite food?”

 After much internal 5-year-old deliberation, I said,

“Spinach. Because it will make me strong like Popeye.”

Such a lie. I hated spinach. But, I wanted others to like me. I wanted a laugh. I wanted approval and admiration (as if spinach was the answer). So, I put on the mask of superficiality. It wasn’t the genuine me…my favorite food was really those awful little Vienna sausages in a can.

Superficiality can also spill over into our prayers with God.

We strap on the mask of a “good Christian.” We utter flimsy prayers we think we should say. We only go so far, not ever revealing our true person. We never expose our genuine thoughts, longings, and desires. We don’t want to admit the messiness of our condition. So, we put on the mask of superficiality praying to God through rote memory, keeping our relationship at a distance.

How do we turn those superficial prayers into genuine conversations with God? What kinds of things do we need to be honest about to build a genuine relationship with God and to have an interesting and satisfying prayer life?

1. Be Honest with your reality.

Look at your situation realistically and talk to God about it. It may seem funny to tell Him what He already knows but it’s the admission and dependence that fosters sweet intimacy and genuineness.

Don’t sugar coat where you are. If you are in a tough place, see it, say it, and struggle within it. Things like: My dad has cancer. This was a terrible parenting day. That person is difficult to deal with.

David, one of the best prayers in the Bible, is a great role model to learn from. He didn’t close his eyes to his messy life. He saw it and faced it.  He messed up big time with adultery and murder. His son was after his throne and rallied a coup to hunt him down. Thousands of men were searching to find and kill him.

“How many are my foes? How many rise up against me?” Psalm 3:1

2. Be Honest with your emotions. 

You have permission to tell God your honest emotions, no matter how crazy they are. Pour it all out. As you pour out your heart, trust, intimacy, and dependence can be strengthen.

Again, we see David honestly and bravely telling God how he feels.

How many rise up against me! [defenseless] Many are saying of me [despised], “God will not deliver him [doubtful].” 
Psalm 3:1-2

He may have felt defenseless, despised, and doubtful. But, he talked with God about it- even when his emotions were unbrave, unfaith-filled, and lacked trust.

My salvation and my honor depend on God, He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:7-8

Let’s marinate on these two for a bit. Take some time for self-reflection and prayer.

  • What is my reality right now?
  • What things are going on in my life that are a struggle, difficult, challenging?  Or joy-filled and a delight?
  • How do I feel about those things? Angry, shameful, happy, excited, anxious, worried?
  • Am I able to freely and honestly share these with God in prayer? If not, why? If not, try it now.

Talk with God about all that is swirling around your head and in your heart. I have found that honesty like this breaks down the walls and fosters such sweet intimacy with the Father who loves you so.

AMY PETERSEN | I'm a mini-van driver, an obsessive organizer, Diet Dr. Pepper drinker, wanna-be runner, Bible studier, do-it-yourselfer, and mom of 3 boys!

Follow Amy on her blog here.


Posted by Shandon Baptist Church with

When the Prayer Want-To Runs Out

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This past Sunday (May 3), Dr. Lincoln began a 3-week series on prayer, "Lord, Teach Me to Pray," a look at the Lord's Prayer in Luke 11. 

The series begins where the disciples began: with the desire to pray and the willingness to learn how. But what happens when that desire to pray just...runs out?

But what happens when that desire to pray just...runs out? 

The following guest post is from Amy Petersen (wife of our Executive Pastor Brandon Petersen) and was originally posted on her blog.


Some things I don’t want to do: laundry, clean bathrooms, make phone calls to schedule doctor appointments. I just don’t want to do them.

As grown-up responsible adults, we resolve and accept that we have to do the things we don’t want to do. Our want-to can’t drive our decisions within the day. Oh, if only they could: I’d eat pizza and double-stuffed Oreos for lunch every day and binge ridiculously on “Call the Midwife” and “Fixer Upper.”

But truly, my friend, how dare we admit we don’t want to pray. Really. Prayer is the good girl thing to do. Prayer is the needed thing to do. Prayer is what we are told to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (pray without ceasing).  So, I pull out my journal, make a plan, and start down through my prayer list. Falling asleep mid-prayer. Trudging unaffected through world and church needs. Going through the motions.

So, I pull out my journal, make a plan, and start down through my prayer list. Falling asleep mid-prayer. Trudging unaffected through world and church needs. Going through the motions.

Granted, spiritual disciplines at times require an act of the will. Praying when we don’t want to. Sharing Jesus when we are scared. Obeying Him when we’d rather choose the most selfish, immediate-gratifying option.

Honestly, shouldn’t prayer be one of those should-dos that the majority of time is a delightful connection with God? One that fuels and invigorates. One that lifts my head, giving perspective to all other things.  One thing that I am drawn to do despite how I feel.

When my prayer want-to runs out, there’s a pivotal nucleus of truth that reignites and rejuvenates. That centers me into the core of the motivational pull to pray in the first place. One thing that really changes everything:

I need to remember who I am talking to.

I need to remember who He is. Remember that He parted the Red Sea. Remember that He sets the moon and stars in their place. Remember that He makes the barren women birth life. Remember that He sent His son to die and set me free. Remember that He crafted me in my mother’s womb, taking great care in the details then and in the details of my life now.

But, I forget. It’s so sad that I forget.

I UNDERestimate who He is and OVERestimate who I am.

I forget and think I can handle it. I forget and surmise that I don’t need Him. I forget and believe I can figure it out. I forget and embrace the untruth that He doesn’t know what’s best for me.

I completely forget who I am talking to: the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the majestic and powerful Creator of the universe, the lover of my soul, the faithful, patient, gracious Shepherd of my heart. Him. My Father. Who loves me so. And, loves you too.

Let’s remember to remember today. And as we do, we will be drawn to connect with Him in prayer and have our prayer want-to refueled.

Let’s remember to remember today.

AMY PETERSEN | I'm a mini-van driver, an obsessive organizer, Diet Dr. Pepper drinker, wanna-be runner, Bible studier, do-it-yourselfer, and mom of 3 boys! For more, click here.

Posted by Shandon Baptist Church with
Tags: prayer

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