Have you ever felt disappointed in prayer? Does prayer feel more like a burden than a relief? Does your experience in prayer leave you feeling more worn out than uplifted?
You are not alone. I call it “prayer fatigue” because I think many people experience prayer as a draining, and often disappointing, activity. The person struggling this way feels that he or she is the only one who secretly has these questions, and feels like a failure at prayer. You’ll be glad to know that most people feel this way at one time or another. If you are in the middle of some form of prayer fatigue, you are in good company.
Let me identify a few common reasons for prayer fatigue and give a thumbnail remedy to counteract it:
1. Thinking of prayer as one more thing on your already crowded “to do” list.
Prayer is not an activity, but a relationship. You live continually in that prayer relationship. It is not something you do, but something you live.
2. The feeling that your job in prayer is to convince God or to move Him to do your will.
Prayer is initiated by God. He moves in your heart, convincing you and moving you to respond to Him and to open your life to His power and provision. Instead of feeling that you have to work on Him, relax and let Him work in you.
3. The feeling that God is grading you in prayer and you are making a barely passing grade.
God is not criticizing you and scolding you. He is not withholding His blessings from you because you did not say your prayer correctly. The Holy Spirit has perfected your expression of prayer in the spiritual realm and God is responding to the cry of your heart, not the cry of your lips.
4. Trying to follow someone else’s pattern for prayer and feeling that you fall short.
God has created you with a unique personality type and your own ways of expressing yourself. The forms of prayer or the structures for a devotional time that works for one person may not fit you at all. God delights in you and in your expressions of prayer.
5. The feeling that in one time-frame you have to fit in everything included in a pre-determined prayer formula.
Prayer outlines are helpful if you keep them in the right perspective. Let them function to keep your focused when necessary, but not to become a legalistic burden. When you remember that you are living in a prayerful relationship, you will recognize that in the course of your praying life you are incorporating all the aspects of prayer, you will be freed of needing to “cover all the bases” every time you set aside time for focused prayer.
Do you identify with any of these causes of prayer fatigue? How can you recalibrate your approach?