The Myth of a Successful Prayer Life

Spring showed up bleak and gray this year, but we barely noticed. The weight of waiting occupied every minute, with question marks bristling where daffodils had been delayed. An army of friends prayed for our family when we could not, waging war on our behalf, inquiring with kindness about obstacles that made no sense and resolution that did not come.

But then one day answers began to bloom. Seismic yeses from God felt like tectonic plates shifting beneath our feet, and the way before us was mercifully clear and certain.  In all the restless energy of waiting I had begun to feel like a failure—a failure at prayer! Then I wondered:  Is this arrival of clarity a sign of success?

Instructions for a Successful Prayer Life

In North America, we are preoccupied with success on every front. Fear of missing the mark drives us to seek out recipes that guarantee a good outcome. Ironically, though, while prayer is happening all over the place in Scripture, there is very little instruction on the generalities beyond “pray like this” and “go into your room and shut the door.” Instead, Jesus and the psalmists and the prophets were all busy doing the work of prayer, pouring out their hearts like water in supplication, celebration, or anticipation of what God would do next.

Jesus’s parable about the persistent widow in Luke 18 reveals the complexity of defining successful prayer, and today it’s my great joy to be sharing truth from that vignette over at Marva Smith’s writing home. I’d love it if you joined me over there to read the post in its entirety.

The Myth of a Successful Prayer Life is part of Marva’s Shining Like Stars series, and you’ll find a blessing if you click here to read other posts.


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Photo by Ruben Hutabarat on Unsplash