fbpx skip to Main Content

6 Myths and Misunderstandings about Prayer (vs. the Truth)

Child's hands clasped in prayer, resting on a white blanket
Updated June14, 2022

Free yourself from these self-harming myths
that block the peace and power
God wants to give you through prayer.

Let’s take a look . . .

  1. I’m too sinful to pray.
  2. I’m too insignificant.
  3. I’m not eloquent enough.
  4. God won’t answer.
  5. Other people have more faith; they can pray for me.
  6. God is my personal genie in a bottle. He should give whatever I ask.

Most often, we belittle ourselves with the first five myths. But we may also aggrandize ourselves, thinking God should simply do whatever we ask!

Let’s untangle this web of lies one myth at a time.

Myth #1:  I’m too sinful to pray.

Truth: We are all sinful, yet God wants all of us to pray. The more sinful we are, the more we need to pray. If we have ignored or rebelled against God for a long time, we will feel far from Him, that’s true.

But as Jesus Himself taught in the parable of the prodigal son, as soon as you make the slightest effort to return to God, He runs to you! (See Luke 15:11-32.) I love that great and beautiful truth! Any effort or spiritual turning of mind to God is accepted with an eager, loving response from Him, illustrated here:

Illustration of running father of the prodigal sonWhat God has told us“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). As long as we are sincere and “call on him in truth,” the Lord will draw near to you. Honesty and sincerity are keys to drawing near to God.

Why this myth is so tempting: It’s easier to just throw up our hands and say we’re hopeless. It doesn’t take any effort. We stick with the status quo and bury our hopes for a better life—a life that’s closer to God and free from our sins. But God wants all of us to pray even though we all sin.

Myth #2:  I’m too insignificant.

Truth: We are created in the very image of God. We are the highest of His creations. The very earth was created for you to dwell, learn, grow, and prepare. He wants you to happily live with Him in eternity. (See Genesis 1:25-26; Revelation 21:3-4)

What God has told us:  This famous verse is so important. Consider how it exposes the falsehood of the myth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Man, insignificant? He gave His Son! Then why fear God? “God is love,” wrote the apostle John. (1 John 4:8.) See also this beautiful collection of 19 scriptures.

Why this myth is so tempting: It fits the fear and negativism that pervades today’s culture. It fits the existential message of modern nihilism perfectly, saying, “You don’t matter and if there is a God, He’s mean and doesn’t care anyway.” By embracing this myth, we slip into worldly thinking and behavior.

Myth #3:  I’m not eloquent enough.

Truth: Even bumbling, scattered words, and sincere thoughts directed toward God are respected and accepted. Learning how to pray more effectively is also important and will lead to greater blessings and peace. Homeless man praying - poor in spirit - beatitudeBut even if we “crouch like a helpless beggar,” we are blessed, as Jesus taught in the Beatitudes. Be bluntly honest, even if you’re angry. Have it out with God. He respects honesty of heart. It’s okay. “Pour out your whole soul” to God in whatever language you’re comfortable with, as David frequently did in the Psalms.

What God has told us: Fancy words don’t matter. In fact, they are offensive to God if they’re just used for show. (See Matthew 6:5.) To help us pray more effectively, Jesus taught the Lord’s prayer, which should become our model:

  • Address God as your heavenly Father.
  • Show respect (hallowed, holy is His name).
  • Ask freely for things you need, even mundane things.
  • Ask for forgiveness for sins while promising that you are willing to forgive others.
  • Praise and thank God for His greatness and kindness toward you.

Why this myth is so tempting: Prayer takes time and spiritual effort. This myth gives us a reason not to pray or even attempt it, which is precisely what the devil wants (and he is very real and actively striving to harm you). Prayer is one of the greatest tools against evil in our lives. We are promised deliverance from evil when we resist the devil. See James 4:7.

Myth #4:  He won’t answer me.

Truth: God always answers sincere prayer. Always. Here is a fabulous resource with lots of examples of the different ways that God answers prayers. It’s an R. Christian Bohlen original! 🙂 It’s a free 20-page colorful PDF that you may share freely.

What God has told us: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Note that worthiness (1 Thes. 2:12) and striving to follow God improve the outcomes of prayer as well as our feeling of closeness to God.

Happy girl with hat with sunflowers
Photo by DesignEcologist

So, while God does always answers prayer, it is clear that improving our relationship with Him increases the degree to which our desires are aligned with His, and therefore the frequency of requests granted in the way we hoped for. But he will always answer in a way that is best for us. Always.

Why this myth is so tempting: Similar to Myth #3, believing this myth discourages us from trying. It leads to taking the easy way out instead of being humble, having faith, and sincerely taking time to pray.

Myth #5:  Other people have more faith; they can pray for me.

Truth: You are responsible for yourself. God expects each of us to pray. Nowhere in scripture does it even imply that we can rely solely on the prayers of others. The leader of your faith community or congregation is not the only one who should pray. The prayers of your more “righteous,” faith-filled friends are no substitute for your own prayers, nevertheless, we are commanded to pray for one another too.

What God has told us: “In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). And that means each of us.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail” (James 5:16, BSB).

Why this myth is so tempting: This myth shifts one of our God-given responsibilities to others. It encourages a lazy spiritual belief that others are responsible for our wellbeing. Believing this myth says, “I am what I am and I’ll never be a person of faith.”

Myth #6:  God is my personal genie in a bottle. He should give whatever I ask.

Truth: God is the ruler of the universe but also our Father. He decides the manner in which He answers our prayers based on what He knows is best for us. God should be treated with respect and humility, not arrogant, selfish, presumptuousness. While He always answers prayers, it’s not always in the way we asked. (Learn more about the different ways God answers prayers with this free 20-page PDF.)

What God has told us: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3, NIV).

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11, NIV).

Why this myth is so tempting: As humans, we are prideful. We like to think we are running the show and calling the shots. Believing this myth allows us to maintain our delusions. Over time, however, we learn our proper relationships to God and we defer to His power and wisdom. We work with His plans instead of resisting them or insisting that He do things our way.

Related Posts and Resources

How to Get Answers & Guidance from Prayer

A Surprisingly Liberating Truth: Slave of Christ

Why Surrendering to God Makes So Much Sense (and How to Do It)

9 Relationships with Christ (to Deepen Your Joy)

BONUS: Learn more about the life and teachings of the Master Himself, as if you were there.

Listen to these free, instantly accessible audiobook samples from “Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine: The Story of Jesus and How It Applies to Us in the Twitter Era,” narrated by the author.

Click any of the “Play” buttons in the bars below. (Note: You may have to click the “launch in new window” button that appears at the right when you hover over a bar instead of the Play button; this varies.)

Introduction. Why is this book non-denominational? What can I expect to get out of it?

Chapter 1: Before Christ. What was going on at the time Jesus was born? What happened to His parents to prepare them?

Chapter 14: The Fish, the Coin and the King. This is a little-known but fascinating story about the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the miracle He uses to teach Peter a lesson while bailing him out of a sticky situation.

BONUS Chapter 23: What If Believing Is Hard for Me? This chapter is designed for you if you are reluctant to believe in things that you can’t see and you need more evidence before you believe.

About the Author. Learn some surprising things about the author and narrator of this book. Understand why this book is so important what prompted the author to write it.

Connect with christ like never before

If you would like to dramatically deepen your connection to Jesus Christ, this resource is among the easiest and fastest ways to learn and apply the life and teachings of Jesus to modern contexts. (eBook cover shown below)

What if you could eyewitness the life of Jesus from His birth to resurrection—as if you were there?

And imagine a personal tour guide helping you understand and apply His story to your toughest challenges in this overwhelming age.

Twenty years in the making, Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine reflects R. Christian Bohlen’s award-winning skills as an instructional designer plus his thirty years in ministry and church leadership, resulting in this uniquely easy-to-read experience with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Carefully researched and biblically based, this non-denominational book is suitable for all Christians, Bible study group participants, your family members, and friends.

You’ll love how this modern approach to practical faith helps you:

  • Find more connections between you and Jesus than you thought possible.
  • Double-down on your commitment to believe in Jesus (and learn how).
  • Use a powerful visualization technique to love and follow Jesus more.
  • Get energy into your spiritual life (instead of religion in a rut).
  • Learn how you can consistently rise above the negativity around you.

For those who struggle with the idea of faith, there’s a special chapter with fresh points to ponder and non-judgmental recommendations.

Start reading now and feel the power of Christ grow in your life.

You’ll find out why readers are saying . . .

“. . . all my questions are being answered.”

“. . . if there were six stars I would give it a six . . . not preachy in the least.”

“. . . best articulated resource I have read in a long time for understanding the life of Jesus and practical ways I can live out my faith.”

“. . . never made me feel dumb . . . or not a good Christian.”

“. . . incredibly well-written.”

Click here to view on Amazon. Available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook.

What readers are saying:

The two reviews below were among the first.

“. . . an amazing summary of Christ’s life. It is not preachy in the least but instead allows the reader to glide through biblical events with ease. . . I loved this book and will read it over and over and share it with family and friends. I teach Bible in a Christian high school and cannot think of a more timely book to present to my students, as a means for them to understand how relevant our Savior’s life is to their generation, and every generation.”

“. . . I am an atheist but have been baptized and gone through confirmation. I learned more in this book then I did in a childhood’s worth of sitting in church. . . His voice is authoritative, educational, and thought-provoking. . . The book is very descriptive, allowing you to truly feel like you are watching the story of Jesus Christ as if it’s a movie.

To see the latest reviews and preview the first few chapters on Amazon, click here.

R Christian Bohlen with bookstore owners at a recent Christian book conference

R Christian Bohlen with bookstore owners at a recent Christian book conference


Estimated Reading Time:
4 -5 minutes

This Post Has 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top