Praying Backwards



Sometimes I get prayer totally backwards.

Prayer is supposed to be about communing with God, expressing my dependence on Him, and asking Him to meet my needs. It?s supposed to have a distinctly God-ward focus.

But there are many times when I don?t feel what I?m praying. I?m praying for boldness to share the gospel, but don?t feel bold when I pray. I pray that God would heal, but I don?t feel like He?s going to be doing any healing. I pray that God would save, but don?t have a feeling of confidence in God?s saving power.

So I turn in on myself. I try to manufacture feelings of boldness or faith, and I get discouraged when my prayers feel limp and lifeless. My focus becomes inward instead of God-ward, which is totally backwards. In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis, writing as a senior demon to a junior demon, comments:

Whenever they are attending to the Enemy [God] Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. Keep them watching their own minds and trying to produce feelings there by the action of their own wills…Teach them [humans] to estimate the value of each prayer by producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at that moment.

The success of my prayers is not based on the power of my prayers. Rather, it?s based on Jesus Christ, who sanctifies my weak, often feeling-less prayers. When my prayers feel weak, the solution is not to try to muster up feelings of spirituality, but to turn my gaze away from myself and on to my Savior.

The more time I spend gazing at myself, the weaker my prayers will be. It?s much more effective to spend my time meditating upon Christ, who perfects my prayers.

Can you relate to the temptation to examine your feelings when you?re praying?

Never Miss Any Goodness

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  • Caroline says:

    Thank You so much for this post.. Was struggling this morning in my prayer time…have to keep reminding myself time and again that its not about me but about Christ….

  • Rachel McC says:

    I was just thinking about this very thing as I read Luke 17:6 last week. It was exciting to realize again it’s not about me, it’s about the greatness and power of the One i am praying to!

  • Dave Durose says:

    Well said. And yes, I can relate.

  • Trevor M. says:

    Amen. Great reminder of a good passage of the Lewis writing. Greater reminder to gaze upon Christ. We are beggars all.

  • You’re welcome! I need to be reminded again and again that prayer is about Christ, and not me.

  • Amen. It’s so funny that we get wrapped up in our prayers and what they feel like, instead of remembering the One we pray to.

  • One thing I love about CS Lewis is his constant reminder to forget about ourselves. I’m always looking inward, and I am grateful that Lewis helps me look outward!

  • Jorge Bessa says:

    The problem is that is too easy to turn my gaze away from Him towards me. It’s been a constant struggle. This is a great reminder.

  • RV says:

    Thank You so much for this post.. Was struggling this morning in my prayer time…have to keep reminding myself time and again that its not about me but about Christ….

  • So glad you found it helpful. I always need to remind myself that it is about Christ!

  • Betsy says:

    This post is so interesting! My grandmother has been very ill and has been becoming more and more discouraged. She is upset that she doesn’t feel like she has a purpose anymore, yet when I ask her if she thinks her purpose is to pray for others she tries and gets frustrated because she doesn’t feel like she can keep her thoughts straight.
    We are so inclined to only think of ourselves and our own miseries and the devil certainly doesn’t help when we try to focus on the Lord and His will. It is slightly reassuring to know that even a 90 year old woman who has been Christian her entire life also struggles with being able to focus on the plan of God but at the same time it is entirely discouraging.

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