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Don’t Pray Because You Ought To

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Don’t Pray Because You Ought To

I have found that we often drift from prayer. We cool to the idea. Every now and then we just need to be reminded. We need to be stirred up again.

Jesus told us we ought always to pray and not give up.[1] And Paul said, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.”[2]

Prayer is a joy!

It is true we OUGHT to pray, but I have discovered that personally I don’t do well with “ought to.” “Ought to” messes with my head! I’m not sure if it’s just a part of my fallen rebellious nature, or if it’s because I’m not a rules-oriented person. To me, “ought to” always feels like a religious thing—like duty and not a delight.

That’s one reason I don’t always mandate a church-wide fast. I don’t want you to fast because your church calls for a fast. I want you to do it because you know in your heart, you need to lay something down! If something has you bound, set it aside for a set time of prayer and fasting.

Ask yourself, If I pray because I ought to, is true prayer really in my heart? Am I doing it because I want to check it off my religious to-do list or because I understand the power and the necessity of prayer?

If someone said, “I have a million dollars for you, but you have to come pick it up,” would you think to yourself, I guess I OUGHT to go pick it up, but I have so much to do… I don’t really feel good; I’m tired and it snowed a ¼ of an inch…. No! There would be no ought to, to it! You’d get in the car and go get it because you GET TO! You are smart enough to know a million dollars represents possibilities. It’ll open some doors. Of course you’d go get it.

That’s exactly how prayer works. Prayer is not a religious duty. Prayer is a joy! Prayer is a privilege! It’s a game changer. It gives us answers for our lives. Get alone with God today and discover all you need in Him.

[1] Luke 18:1

[2] Colossians 4:2 NKJV


About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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