Learning to Pray the Right Prayer
"You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask [pray], you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives."1
Some time ago I took a psychological test that, among other things, measured how much I was in touch with my major emotions of love, wonder, guilt and fear. On a scale of 0 to 100 any score below 30 was considered repressed.
Oops—on fear I scored 5!
This concerned me because I knew that repressed fear could cause me to act out blindly by setting myself up to fail at work or in relationships. I didn't want to do that so I prayed earnestly that God would deliver me from my buried fear. However, I realized I was praying the wrong prayer. I was focusing on praying for deliverance from the symptom rather than from the cause, so I changed my prayer to: "Dear God, my real prayer is that I don't want to face that fear. I'm too afraid. That's why I buried it. Please give me the courage to face and deal with the real cause/s of my fear/s."
The point I'm making is that we need to learn to be honest in our praying. For example, if I can't stand my neighbor and, wanting to impress God, piously ask him to bless my neighbor while in my heart I despise my neighbor, which prayer does God hear? He hears what my heart is saying. Only as I admit this can God help me to love my neighbor and bless him through me.
By the way, it took me two years to resolve the fear mentioned above. It was caused by the death of a sister that I loved dearly when I was a small child. My fear was that if I loved someone, I might lose them. In time I discovered that I had a few more hidden fears to deal with as well. Since facing and resolving these fears, my close relationships have improved dramatically.
How can you tell if you have any buried fears? Look at any symptoms in your life. Do you have a pattern of failure at work or in relationships? Any phobias? Any floating anxieties that you have no idea where they are coming from? Any physical ills such as ulcers or any addictions that you may be using to avoid facing something you have buried?
And how do we overcome such fears? I don't know any easy solution but for me it began with a genuine desire to overcome them. Next, I needed to accept full responsibility for resolving my fears and stop blaming anyone else for them. Above all, I needed to ask God to help me to be honest with myself, to give me the courage to face my fears, and to lead me to the help I needed to overcome them.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the insight and courage to see and deal with any repressed or hidden fears in my life, and lead me to the help I need to overcome the causes of these. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. James 4:2-3 (NIV).