When My Prayers Are Shallow

As I was considering why my prayers are sometimes shallow, I realized they stem from one source: lack of consistent reading, meditating and studying God's Word. And I don't mean just going through the motions and reading Scripture just so I can check it off my list, pat myself on the back and go on with my day; still charged with my fleshly desires, thoughts, and habits. What I mean is, the lack of desire to read the Word of God, not to get something from Him, but just to be with Him—to know Him more, in order to love Him better (Ps 46:10).

I know my prayers are shallow when I'm overcome by my weaknesses. I know my prayers are shallow when I'm wallowing in self-pity because I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know my prayers are shallow when they're filled with my desires, how I think my life and the life of others around me should be. I know my prayers are shallow when they're filled with my limited knowledge of circumstances rather than filled with the wisdom of God (James 3:17). I know my prayers are shallow when they're consumed by my words, my thoughts, and my desires rather than consumed and guided by God's Word, precepts, and holiness.

"Thus says the LORD: 'Let not the the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understand and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.' "
~Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV)

This is the God I want and need to know and understand better. I need to know the LORD who alone is God—the one who practices steadfast love (mercy), justice, and righteousness. I don't need to know the feel-good, cheap-graced god that many of us have created in our own image. You know, the one who "loves you just the way you are", but not enough to discipline you (Heb 12:7-8)? The one who only says the things that make you feel good and self-assured, but not the one who humbles you so your spirit can be sanctified. This is the false god of modern day evangelicalism and I'm not interested in him at all.

When my prayers are shallow, I know it's because I've already spent too much time with this false god that only cheers but never chastises me. And I know myself well enough to admit...I need both encouragement and rebuke. And if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit, you need both too.

"He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything He might be preeminent. For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.

"He [Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high"
~Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

This is the God I want to worship and love—the one I need and want to guide my prayers.

When I'm not daily reading God's Word in order to know Him more so I can love Him better, then my prayers will be shallow. And so will yours. However, if we incline our hearts to His ways and not to selfish gain (Ps 119:35-37), then our prayers are guaranteed to be deep and wide, and very effective. We need to daily discipline our bodies and minds to read, meditate and study the awesome Word of God, so that our prayers are led by the Spirit of God and not by the defilement of our flesh.

If you're looking for a way to remain steadfast in God's Word daily, here's the reading plan I use and recommend: Professor Grant Horner's 10 Lists Bible Reading System.