Two Steps to Take When You Realize Your Prayer is a Fake

For a couple of weeks before Christmas we prayed a lot for our daughters, Maggie and Katy.

Maggie said she was afraid she might fail her statistics class in grad school because our family doesn’t do math.  This is the Instagram she posted.

math blackboard

And Katy was under a lot of pressure at work because, well, she had to coerce motivate people to do what they didn’t want to do.

I mobilized pray-ers.  Family.  Friends.  The occasional stranger who looked bored.

The girls and new son-in-law arrived to spend Christmas with us.

“Well?” we asked, “How did it go?”

Maggie ended up with a A- in her stats class and Katy got a bonus at work.

My first reaction was “Whaaaaaat??!  I’m not praying for you any more!   You don’t need any help!” (ok that was a bit of an exaggeration).

But my first reaction was not to thank God.

As I reflected on this response I thought, “What does this say about how I really view prayer?” Maybe in my heart I really believe…

  • It’s just a superstitious safe-guard.
  • Some days I need God and some days I’m just fine, thank you very much. Prayer is for desperate situations like lost space ships when we’re forced to say, “Houston, we have a problem”
  • I prefer (at least the illusion of) autonomy over a posture of dependence.
  • I take God’s power and involvement very casually.

I don’t think it’s about praying for parking places, or a good hair day, but what does my prayer life say about how I really see God, what I think the purpose of prayer is, and the fact that God says it is powerful?

As much as I know in my head that prayer is an acknowledgement that there is a God and it’s not me, and a humble conversation with my Creator that says, “Thy will be done, and help me to make Thy will my will.”, my first response to Katy and Maggie (tho lighthearted) was a rude awakening to my true heart.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with this head/heart chasm.  Can you relate?

If you can, you may be disappointed.  This is not a nice and neat “now-i-understand-prayer-and-get-it-right” post.  There is sooooo much I just don’t understand about prayer, but the two steps I can take are actually two words:

Sorry and Help.

“Lord please forgive me for not acknowledging that You are always Lord of all of life.  Please help me to bow before You and seek Your will in all things, praising You for your care, faithfulness, omniscience.  Your ways are not my ways.  Please help me to submit my will to Yours and bring my heart in line with my head.”


4 thoughts on “Two Steps to Take When You Realize Your Prayer is a Fake

  1. I love this, Laura! Yes, it is a conundrum when we tell people we are praying for them, because we don’t want to act as if it is a magical formula. And if it doesn’t “work” they will think we didn’t pray the right ingredients. Yet we are told to “pray without ceasing.” Prayer is mysterious and I believe there is an effect. But it surpasses our human understanding as it says in Philippians 4. Prayer comes in many forms. Overall, it helps me not be as anxious about a situation or problem. I think we should not judge or think there is one correct way to pray. (Unless we are guaranteeing healing from our specific prayers to get some selfish benefit that glorifies ourselves. Then that is not prayer, that is manipulation.)


  2. Prayer is tricky business… thank you, Laura, for posting this. The part I liked best, “thy will” vs. “my will”… often the trickiest part off all prayers.


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