Praying without Ceasing: Avoiding Legalism in Prayer- With Link Up

Avoiding Legalism in Prayer - Finding joy in your time with God |Prayer | Legalism | Joy | Prayer Closet | Faith | God| http://www.worthbeyondrubies.com/legalism-prayer/
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It was a really crazy day.  I had been so busy and, before I knew it, the day got away from me.  I prayed a quick prayer in the morning when everyone left the house, as I do every morning.  I pray for protection for my husband and all my kids.  Then I went back to work (I work from home) and then had a ton to do for my blogging work.  I admit…I just let myself get distracted by everything.  Next thing I knew, it was 5:00 and my husband texted that he was leaving work.  Wow!

I sat down and it occurred to me….I hadn’t had my prayer time.  I felt horrible!

You see, every day, after I finish work around 11 am, I have my prayer time.  I go into my “war room” and I pray.  I pray over everyone!  I pray over you if you are reading this!  If you are a blogger, I pray for your success each day.  If you are a friend on Facebook who posted about being ill or losing a loved one, I pray for you.  I pray for my kids.  I pray for my husband.  I pray for the nation and its leadership.  It is also a time I listen.  I listen to what God wants to say.  It is a special time I have with Him each day.

Except that day.

As soon as I realized I had actually somehow managed to forget…not neglect, I actually FORGOT…to have my prayer time, I stopped and prayed and asked for forgiveness.  How could I do that???  How could I forget??  I was genuinely remorseful and on the verge of tears that I had let this time slip by me.

But then God so gently spoke to my heart as He so often does.  He said, “Do you realize you have been praying all day?  You have prayed without ceasing by talking with me all day long.”

He showed me I was being legalistic about my prayer time.  The time I spend with God is precious but it does not always have to take the same form.  I became so stringent about that one long period of time I spend praying that I forgot that I actually pray all the time.  I pray, as I said, in the morning.  I pray when I mess up and do something wrong and immediately ask for forgiveness.  I pray when I read a post on Facebook.  I pray when I need help with something.  I had grown so legalistic about this time that I didn’t realize I prayed without ceasing.

The time I spend with God is precious but it does not always have to take the same form. #prayer Click To Tweet

There is a line in a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Let Us Pray” and it says, “Just because we say the word ‘Amen’ doesn’t mean this conversation needs to end.”  Our conversation, if  we are inclined to spend a set time in prayer, shouldn’t (and usually doesn’t) end with that time.

Avoiding Legalism in Prayer - Finding joy in your time with God |Prayer | Legalism | Joy | Prayer Closet | Faith | God| www.worthbeyondrubies.com/legalism-prayer/

Paul spoke about this in Romans:

“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers…” Romans 1:9

 

Paul said he prayed for those in Rome and without ceasing he made mention of them in his prayers.  Paul prayed all the time and in all places.  He spoke with God everywhere he went.  If Paul had to have a set time and place he never would have prayed because Paul was, well…let’s just say Paul ran into many different circumstances and trials in different parts of the region.

I had grown so legalistic about this time that I didn't realize I prayed without ceasing #prayer Click To Tweet

We can become legalistic about prayer.  We can become legalistic in Bible study.  The legalism doesn’t come with having a set time and place we choose to meet with God each day.  The legalism comes in when we feel like we fail God when we DON’T do it..as though we are somehow EARNING His approval.  If we feel guilt or condemnation because we let time get away from us one day then that is a good indication that you have made that time a form of bondage to your spirit.  You may love that time, you may enjoy that time…and that time is GOOD!  But you have become yoked to it!  It should be out of love and out of a desire to commune with God…not because you have done it every day at the same time in the same place and then feel guilty if you can’t or don’t show up!

So now I view that time differently.  While I see it as a divine appointment, I realize God is willing to change the time and place whenever life throws me a curve ball.  And He is ok with that because it is not about where or what time I pray…it’s that I DO pray.

While I see it as a divine appointment, I realize God is willing to change the time and place… Click To Tweet

So now I break that by praying in different places in the house at times.  I break it by changing up my routine with it and I have actually found it refreshing.  I think if we spend time doing something the same way over and over again it keeps us from experiencing the joy that can be found at other times!

If you always pray in your prayer closet, you can miss the joy that could come by taking your prayer time outside.  If you always pray in the morning you could miss the joy that comes with communing with God by moonlight.  The same way we don’t spend time with our loved ones at the same exact times and places…we should also change up how we commune with God.

What ways have you possibly become legalistic about your prayer time or anything else you do to serve God?  Let me know in the comments!

For some great ideas for changing up your prayer closet, read 7 Unconventional Prayer Closets

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8 Comments

  1. Oh sweet Diane.... you hit the nail on the head on this post. I have found that sometimes I have been legalistic about my prayer time. In an effort to make sure that I 'get it done", I have not treated it as the precious time that it is. Sometimes I have hurried so that I make sure I "get it done" before moving onto to something else. Something else that isn't more important. Something else that truly isn't more pressing that spending time with my savior. It's just something else.

    Nothing is more important than my time with the Lord. This post is a great reminder of just how wonder the intimate exchange that we have with Him is....and it should be treated as such.

    Bless you sister.

    • Thank you so much my dear sister!! I am so glad you were encouraged by it. Your comments are always such a blessing to me!!

  2. I love your heart for prayer!! I wish I could be so disciplined..and appreciate your reflection on backing off from legalistic praying..I think we all have to look at all the legalistic aspects of our Christian life and allow God to move in us and have His being, too, without being so hard on ourselves!

    • Amen and thank you so much Kathy. Believe me, prayer was not always easy for me!!

  3. This reminds me of the story of the French monk, Brother Lawrence, who spoke of practising the presence of God such that even as he did his chores in the busy monastery kitchen, he continued to commune with God as during his allotted time for prayer and meditation. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is so true Diane! How often we fall into the trap of thinking it's our actions that earn us grace. Thanks for the reminder that we need to watch the state of our hearts in even such seemingly simple things such as our prayer time and devotional life.