7 Questions to Determine if Your Prayer Life is More Ritual or Relationship

Prayer is seldom easy. I talk with a lot of folks about prayer, and I fear that many of them approach prayer as a ritual rather than as a relationship. Use these questions to consider which one more describes your prayer life today: 

  1. Do you pray because you have to or because you want to? If you talk to God only because “that’s what a Christian is supposed to do,” you’re likely treating prayer as a ritual.
  2. Are you comfortable praying wherever you are, or must you pray in a certain place at a certain time?  It’s fine – important even, for some believers – to have a set time and place to pray each day. But, your prayer life might be ritualistic if you pray only in that place and time.
  3. Do you ever just talk to God about your day, or do you turn to Him only when you have a need? Praying only when a need arises makes prayer a ritual of response. True relationship means you want to talk often with the person, even if you seemingly have nothing important to say.
  4. Does your language style change when you pray? We’ve all heard that leader whose accent disappears and whose words change to KJV English when he prays. That’s ritual. In a relationship, we might even call that “fake.” 
  5. Can you make it through the day without praying? If so, that’s not a very strong relationship. When you do pray, I’d not be surprised if it’s only a ritual someone else expects you to follow. 
  6. Do your prayers sound alike all the time? That’s one way I realize when I’ve shifted more into ritual. When my prayers sound remarkably alike – sometimes word-for-word alike in a given setting, like praying with my wife in the morning or saying grace over a meal – I’ve moved in the wrong direction.
  7. Do you just know that your prayers are more a Christian ritual than an expression of a relationship? See, I think we do know, unless we’ve allowed our heart to deceive us. Is prayer more ritual or relationship in your life? Be honest. Trust your Holy Spirit-directed gut. 

If your praying has become more “I have to pray” than “I get to pray,” ask God to give you a “want to” heart for Him. And get somebody else to pray the same for you . . . .


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