Sloppy Prayers


Having raised five kids, I have first-hand experience with the fickleness of childish requests. It starts when they’re infants. They cry and cry for their bottle, but when you give it to them, they either won’t feed or will take a small amount and then use their tongue to push the nipple out of their mouths.

As your bundle of joy grows, so does their fickleness. “Jimmy, do you want to go to the store with me?” Mom says. No sooner does Mom cross the threshold of the store before her little tike says, “How soon can we go home? I’m bored.” 

And, yes, this fickleness continues. Adults learn to suppress their childishness, but fickleness is like an inflated beachball. You can hold it underwater for a while, but eventually, it will pop to the surface; that’s fickleness. 

Sloppy Prayers

The Bible has a different word for fickleness; it’s called being double-minded. In James 1:8, we find, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” In all his ways includes prayer. Many Christians pray sloppy prayers. They will pray sincerely but have no recollection of their prayer by the next day. Others ask the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9) for one outcome today and a different one tomorrow. We cannot receive what we ask for unless we ask in faith and then set our face like flint (Isaiah 50:7).

Sincere Prayer

We find in Habakkuk 2:1,3 an excellent example of how we should anticipate God’s answered prayer:

I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

We cannot expect God to care about our needs if we don’t care. Prayers are sacred. Sincere prayer is instigated by the Holy Spirit, mediated by the Son of God, and actuated by Father God. Having a sloppy prayer life is setting ourselves up to be disciplined by God. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)

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