Devotional Bondage

As we have concluded our fast, I believe it is important that we continue in prayer.  To make a habit of praying and seeking the Lord.  As we endeavor to be disciplined in our prayer lives we must remember that it doesn’t become just a ritual or a task that we do grudgingly.  We must make sure that we do it from the want to instead of the have to.

As I was contemplating this thought, I came across an article I wrote 4 years ago that I think will help those who have struggled with the mindset of “having” to pray.  Keep your heart for God and prayer and do it out of your love for God.

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, visited 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 several years 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.

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