I believed several lies about prayer and buttering up God.
Over the course of the last three years, we have experienced some hard “stuff” both professionally and personally. We would unanimously use the word “robbed”. Robbed of co-workers through their untimely deaths. Robbed of time with our daughter. Through those experiences, I believed the lie that I wasn’t praying “good enough”. From that standpoint, I began “buttering up God” by using more flowery words, going on about His greatness, increasing the time spent in prayer. However, the more things spiraled downward the less I felt heard, the more I felt the need to “butter up”. Finally, in frustration with seeing very little change, I decided to give up on prayer. Prayer was obviously not working the way I was praying.
I would ask myself questions like…
- “What am I doing wrong in prayer?”
- “Why is this not working?”
- “How much more buttering up will I have to do?”
Recently, while on an outing with a friend, I let my feelings be made know about “buttering up God” in prayer, and she politely said, “Then stop Michele, and just ask Him.” This was a total revelation. It was as if someone hit me upside the head. I realized that I got caught up in my own legalism of how prayer should work and somehow lost what the true intentions of prayer are for.
I am currently hosting a book club. We are reading the book “Your Powerful Prayers” by Susie Larson . We are only into the first two chapters, but her gentle insight on prayer has been like a lighthouse light to my flickering prayer flame. Susie shared in the introduction
“If we live our lives and we approach our prayers as though we’re trying hard to jump high enough to reach the sky, we’ll only wear ourselves out. We’ll pray weak prayers, and we’ll never fully experience what God has made available to us.”
That was me! If I could “jump high enough to reach the sky”- that was my “buttering up God”. If I would just say all the magic words with enough pizzaz I would get my prayers answered. I would see change. But that was a lie I believed and I had indeed worn myself out.
I am beginning to see prayer
as a constant conversation between me and God. It’s an all-day conversation about what I am seeing, thinking, hearing, and feeling. It’s about my learning to live through Him and not in myself. I bring to Him my wants, my needs, and my hurts. I uplift others, call out truths, and break down strongholds. Lastly, I am telling Him about how much I need, love, and relate to Him through His creation. While at breakfast, I questioned Brad over how Jesus prayed and just at that moment I felt like God popped into my head the thought “Take a look at the Lord’s Prayer.”
So I went to Matthew 6:5-14
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV)
Did you catch the part of ” … do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Makes me ashamed of myself. Do you find yourself babbling sometimes? When you look at the start of the prayer, was there ANY buttering up? There was NOT A WORD saying I had to butter Him up. Jesus did not butter his Father up. Jesus acknowledged him as his Father, the mission, the food for the day, forgiveness and direction with protection. It was honest, straightforward and no fluff.
So what buttering up of God have you done?- Michele Bruxvoort