Stop Using Prayer as a Cop Out

A lot of us Christians seem really good at reminding each other to pray.

And to pray excessively about everything.

Yes, there is the verse “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” Yes, the Bible does tell us to pray.

But we pray about what major to choose in college. What job offer to take. What online dating site to use. Whether to buy an iPhone or a Google Pixel. What combo meal to order off the Chick-Fil-A menu.

Some of those might be slight (and I say only slight) exaggerations. But let me show you an illustration from my own life of when praying became excessive—and even counterproductive.

It was a month after my high school graduation. The excitement of finally finishing my K-12 education had worn off, and the questions from others about what I was going to do next were beginning to pour in.

“So do you know what you’re doing in the fall?”

“Are you going to college?”

“What do you want to do with your life?”

As I felt immense pressure both from people around me and from within myself to discern what to do next, my prayer life began to skyrocket. In fact, my relationship with God became primarily about praying—praying for answers to the big decisions I was facing.

I prayed daily, if not numerous times a day, for God to show me what He wanted me to do.

Do You want me to go to college, Lord? What would You want me to study? What colleges should I apply to? Do You want me to wait on college and do something else instead? What is Your will for me, God?

I became so desperate in my prayers, so stressed out that God wasn’t giving me clear direction and I was going to choose the wrong thing, that I actually sunk into depression.

What I didn’t realize back then was while I was prayerfully begging God to show me the way, He was actually giving me the freedom to choose the way.

When people asked what I was going to do next after graduation, I told them I wasn’t sure yet. But what I really wasn’t sure about was the lack of clear direction from God in response to my prayers. So I waited, deciding that if I chose nothing, I couldn’t make the “wrong” choice.

It’s time for a heart check: how often do you wait to make decisions or take a first step because you’re still “praying about it”? And is it because you don’t feel peace to move forward, or because you feel paralyzed by fear about making a choice?

Pssst. Can I say something, friend? God already knows what you’re going to choose. He already knows how things are going to turn out, and He already wrote this part of your life into His plans for you. This is something I was wonderfully reminded of myself this week. Apart from choosing blatant sin, you can’t mess it up.

You have God’s Holy Spirit, the greatest Guide and Teacher ever, on the inside of you, and Jesus’s promise to always be with you.

The New Testament writer of the book of James said that faith is useless unless it is put into action. Don’t let prayer become an acceptable excuse to not move. To not make hard decisions. To not live the life of freedom and grace God purchased with His own blood for you.

Don’t get stuck praying about something because you’re afraid to call it what it is. Indecision, and fear.

God didn’t give us a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). Pray for wisdom. Pray for direction. But pray for courage, too, to step out in trust, knowing God is for you, His character is good, and there’s nowhere you can go that He will not be right there with you.

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For more on the topic of decision making and God’s will, I highly recommend the book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung.

You can also check out my related post God’s Will for Our Lives Isn’t that Complicated.

Stop using prayer as a cop out

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