Devotional Bondage

As I was coming up in ministry, I was taught rather legalistically, that you had to spend at least an hour a day in prayer.  Not 59 minutes, but at least an hour.  To fall short by one minute would mean that you were ineffective and risked the possibility of hell.  I am not making this stuff up, but I was taught that Jesus asked His disciples, “Could you not tarry with me for one hour?”  If Jesus asked that question, then we must tarry at least one hour.

For years I watched the clock to make sure I made it.  When I pastored my first church, I worked a full time job with alot of overtime, prepared three sermons a week, visitied the sick, cleaned the church, mowed the church yard, did the bulletins and anything else that needed to be done.  I often did not meet my target goal of one hour.  I would arise at 5:00 some mornings to “get my hour in” before I went to work.  Because I would stay up to midnight preparing sermons, I would fall asleep in prayer at the altar and then hang my head in shame at how my flesh got the best of me.  This went on for years.

After I went full-time in ministry, I still had the bondage of this one hour a day rule.  I felt like a failure, ashamed that I could not pray long enough.  It didn’t matter if you prayed throughout the day.  You at least had to pray for one hour at one time.  I lived with guilt and shame, as most do, when they are bound by legalism.  It wasn’t until about a year ago that I finally got set free of this addictive garbage.  I realized that God enjoys time with us, whether it be 5 minutes or 5 hours. 

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the more prayer the better, but if we are praying out of legalism, there is a skewed relationship with God.  We treat God as an abusive Father who demands perfection in our prayer life.  We then pray out of fear of failure, rather than praying out of our desire for Him.  We fall into the trapping of trying to please God rather than communing with God.  God is a loving Father who desires to know us and lavish us with His love and we must seek Him out of a desire to know Him more.  God is a God who is a gracious Father not a God who cannot be pleased.

Our prayer lives should be growing and ongoing, but not bound to a time or ritual.  I no longer watch the clock.  I no longer fear falling short.  I pray in the mornings as long as I can or feel led.  I pray during the day, when I am in my car, or while I’m working.  I now have more freedom in prayer and my relationship with God is relishing His love and grace.

4 thoughts on “Devotional Bondage

    • Legalism always stifles grace. We fail to remember that His grace helps us live holy. Legalism makes us live holy. So it is with all forms of legalism whether prayer or anything else. We must rely on His grace!

  1. Some times as we go through our day, we hear of problems and we are asked to pray
    for different circumstances or people. We don’t always have to be down on our knees in what LOOKS like intense prayer. At work a lot of times people come in
    and tell you about something or someone that needs prayer. After they are gone
    it is brought back to mind and another prayer is offered. I think I can pray more
    without thinking about it than if I do it all day.

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