Prayer is 90% desire and 10% words

What is prayer? The most common answer is that prayer is talking with God. If that's all prayer is, then get ready for a boring relationship with God. I have experienced this and observed it in others: when prayer is words, it eventually becomes words without life. It becomes like reading the phone book to God. "God, please remember so-and-so, and so-and-so, and so-and-so." It is mind-numbingly boring. We rattle off something or other because it's the right thing to do. "There. I prayed for so-and-so. Done." When we pray this way, prayer becomes dry as sawdust. We want more, and God does too.

Prayer is supposed to be deep and vibrant. Contrast "phone book prayer" with the way the apostle Paul prayed for his friends in the church at Philippi.
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart... I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:3-8).
 Let's review how Paul prays for them:
Thankfulness. Joy. Confidence. Feeling. Heart. Longing. Affection.
This is hardly "phone book praying"! I don't see Paul rattling off a list of churches to God. "And Father, I pray for the believers in Thessalonica, and Rome, and Philippi, and Corinth..." Instead, he feels his connection with his friends in Philippi, and these feelings become the vehicle that carries his prayers. It is like the difference between reading a person's name out of the phone book and getting inside that person's skin. Paul does make specific requests for the Philippians (see verses 9-11), but we learn from him that prayer is not just words. Prayer is desire expressed to God.

"Desire expressed" is vastly different from "words rattled." How can we do this? I have three simple tips.

  1. Take enough time to feel. It takes a few extra moments, but it's worth it. 
  2. Get into someone's world. Pause long enough to get into someone's world, feel their situation, and then express that to God. 
  3. Feel authentic desire for that person's wellbeing. God wants the best for people, and he conveys his feelings to us. We join him when we feel an authentic desire for someone's true wellbeing.
  4. Express emotions fully; use words if you need to. Sometimes the deepest prayer is a gutteral cry on someone's behalf. God knows what you are trying to get across. Let your emotions do the talking.
  5. Be thankful, joyful, and confident. To pray for someone is to bring his/her world to God. God holds the answers. We can be happy and confident in his faithfulness.
Next time praying feels like reading the phone book, remember. Prayer is 90% desire and 10% words.


  1. I appreciate this Pastor David!!! I think about the Lord teaching the disciples to pray. He told them to "pray like this" (Matt 6:9)not 'pray these words' "blah blah blah blah... I have learned to pray according to the scriptures prayers that affirm His promises, draw my attention to Him and His heart but to make them, even force them to come from an authentic place in my heart. This is often such a place of transformation in my life. And I thought it was all about me talking with God only to find out God is doing a work in this precious exchange!"Let's pray"


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