Prayer and perfectionism, they are quite a pair. Prayer is a major key to finding the focus needed to overcome perfectionism, but perfectionism can really hinder prayer.
Here’s how you might feel if you are struggling with perfectionism in your prayer life:
- You might be afraid you don’t know the “right” way to pray.
- You may feel like there is no way you can pray over “all of that every day.”
- You may say something like this: “If I can’t do it right, I’m just not going to do it at all.”
- You might lack confidence and think you are not a good prayer warrior like _________. (Fill in the blank with a name.)
- You might think you don’t have enough time to pray.
- You may always feel defeated in your prayer life.
These are all things I have struggled with and it has taken a long time to get past thoughts like these. One thing to remember is that these kinds of things are feelings, and our feelings do not necessarily tell us the truth. If we are not careful, thoughts like these can become beliefs. These beliefs are not reflecting the truth about us or about the potential in our prayer lives. God’s word is the truth-teller and what we need to depend on.
No matter where you are in your prayer journey, here are some helpful things to remember:
Everybody else struggles, too. That friend you look at and think she has it all together? She’s looking right back at you and thinking the exact same thing. We’re all in the same boat and feel the same insecurities and doubts. But there is one thing we can be sure of. We can be sure of our identity in Christ. That is what gives us confidence and security, and it is an anchor for our souls that we can always hold on to.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast. Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)
Developing a prayer habit takes time. As perfectionists, anything that takes time is frustrating. We are driven to the end goal and we are pretty hard on ourselves in getting there. We often expect a lot of ourselves, maybe more than is really possible. This is a something we all need to let go of. Take things one step at a time. Be as consistent as you can with prayer, and know that some days, even most days, will not go like you think they should. They key is doing your best to consistently return to Him over and over again in whatever way you can. God will honor our coming to Him and teach us to go further in our faith as we continue to do our best to meet with Him.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)
Let go of your expectations of what your quiet time should look like. Don’t let following a method or certain prayer plan be the stamp of approval for your prayer life. I enjoy having a plan to go by because that’s the way I’m wired, but others of you have more of a free spirit and a step by step process would totally bog you down. It’s OK if your quiet time doesn’t look like mine. God made us all unique and different so don’t compare. Just be you. God made you the way you are because He wanted to. He loves you and He delights in you!
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19 (NIV)
Don’t wait for your prayer life to be perfect. You do not have to have the perfect words to say, the perfect verse to pray, or the perfect plan to follow. As a mater of fact, you may feel like you don’t have any words at all. But there is Someone who does. Even when we are at a loss for words, the Holy Spirit is interceding for us. Because of this, we can let go of any worry over making mistakes or not doing prayer the right way. The Holy Spirit prays the words you don’t know how to. Just spend time with Him. He’ll take care of the rest.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (NASB)
So spend time with God in prayer and try hard to not let perfectionism get the best of your prayer life. It’s a daily battle, but the Lord can help us overcome. He prays for us. He delights in us and brings us into spacious places. He helps us grow to be more like Himself, and His is our anchor.