"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. We pray wrong when we pray "with a view to squandering what" we receive on our pleasures (Jas 4:3). We pray wrong not because of a faulty memory, halting speech, or confused mind, but because of a selfish heart.
Prayer is not our 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 most Christians may pray wrong most of the time.
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: "Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He Who in His great mercy gave us new birth; a birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pt 1:3).
Reference: (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Ten Commandments of Intercession, or our tape on Intercession, on video, a two-tape series starting with V15-A.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 2, 2014
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