Daily Devotable – Why Aren’t My Prayers Working?

Learning How to Pray Effectively

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. Matthew 6:7 MSG

Why isn’t this working?!

Faithless words and wringing hands- these used to describe my prayer life but not anymore! After beating my head against a God-sized brick wall, I finally learned the perspective I needed as it governed my prayers.

It took quite a while for me to learn why I was getting so frustrated with prayer. I can be determined, even tenacious, so it can take me a little too long sometimes to look up and see that what I’m doing isn’t working.

And even longer to figure out “why”.

What the “pool house” taught me

Many years ago, my husband bought a small home that was dirt cheap to flip. Mind you, this was almost 20 years back, way before we had ever heard of “flipping”. It was undervalued with a small pool.

He knew how to build a home so he thought he could fix it up to sell for a profit. We had the money to invest so we sought the wisdom of both sides of our families and a real estate friend. After all gave their approval, we bought.

What we didn’t do was sell………

That house was the cutest thing ever! We could not figure out WHY it wasn’t selling! It was priced it to sell but nothing worked.

We had that property for TWO YEARS!

And don’t you think I wasn’t praying the whole time?!

I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. We needed that house to sell asap so during that time, I pleaded with God, frantic at times, to take it off our hands. It ended up consuming most of my prayer time each day. What I wanted from God took over my prayer life.

After examining whether we had been in error to understand God’s will for buying the house, I understood that we were exactly where God wanted us. There was a lesson to be learned and it wasn’t about being “outside” of God’s will as much as it was in learning about Biblical prayer.

What I learned basically is that my prayer life was driven by me, for me. It was all about ME.

  • selfish
  • fearful
  • consuming
  • unbalanced
  • prideful

What is Biblical prayer?

There is no better place to understand what prayer is supposed to be patterned by than how Jesus explained it in Matthew 6:6-8 MSG.

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.

How were my prayers different?

The hard reality I was learning during that time is that prayer is not about me getting what I want. It isn’t about asking in the right way, with the right persuasion or argument. Prayer is not about learning some hidden secret for having life go the way you think it should.

The shocking reality I was learning was that prayer is not about me getting what I want!

I had been exhausting myself trying to explain to the Lord all the reasons why that house should sell and the many ways He could get it done. As ridiculous as that sounds, that’s exactly what I was doing. Prayer became about me trying to unlock the secret door to convincing God what He needed to do.

Fretfully spouting words was not what Jesus described as the example to follow. The longer He delayed in answering my prayers the way I wanted, the more I feared what would happen to us. In essence, I was faithlessly praying because I was certainly not praying in confidence of the outcome.

How my prayer life transformed

As time carried on and panic turned to resignation, I began to change, and as I changed, so did my prayer life.

There was a process of dying to self, the way I viewed life and what ought to be done gave way to trust in the nature of God. If He was All-Loving, All-Knowing, and All-Powerful, then surely I could trust in His view and ability to orchestrate my life the way it TRULY ought to be done.

As I appeared at a crossroads, with two paths to take, I had a choice of whether to continue on with my perspective of how life should play out or I could yield to the way God was obviously governing it, even though it was contrary to what I wanted.

His way HAD to be the better way! Right?

Instead of what I wanted God to do for me consuming my time in prayer, I briefly mentioned what I wanted toward the end of my prayer time, after I had thanked Him for what He was already doing on my behalf. I spent more time attesting to the truth of God’s character and ability.

Prayer transformed into beautiful communion between a Heavenly Father and His beloved child. It ceased being manipulation, like a badgering teenager trying to get their way.

What I enjoyed the most about my new prayer life

As I shifted my focus during my prayers, from myself to God, I did begin to sense His grace like the above Scripture described. The intimate communion became the sweetest part of my prayer life.

Just as a teenager hopefully matures into adulthood and begins to enjoy their parents instead of fighting against them, I matured in my prayers and began to enjoy God.

What blessed moments in time when we can actually ENJOY our God!

I finally trusted Him-His love, wisdom, and power.

With that came a peace as He cared for me. I was no longer fighting against Him but resting in Him.

I learned the valuable lesson God had for me as He used that pool house. Prayer became what it was meant to be all along- my communion with a loving Father, sensing the grandeur and grace of His matchless name!

Our property finally did sell…..but the profit we made on the house was inconsequential compared to the profit I gained in my prayer life.

That, my friends, was priceless.

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Gretchen Fleming

My passion is to follow hard after Jesus, knowing He is the treasure of a lifetime and worth every minute I commit to Him. God’s Word has been life-changing for me through the most difficult times- a great source of strength, wisdom, and truth. I am a speaker, Bible teacher and writer who loves to see Christ change lives as He’s changed mine. I am a wife of 29 years and mom to 3 young adult kids, a testimony to the grace of God alone.