Sweating in Church
Lysa TerKeurst

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV)

Recently, I was studying what causes people to feel spiritually frustrated. The two top reasons? Bible study and prayer.

I get it.

I can clearly remember sitting in church sweating because everyone else knew instantly how to get to every passage in the Bible the preacher man referenced. But not me. I was more interested in counting the preacher man's spit droplets than any of the fiery words he was spewing out.

Others seemed all wrapped up and excited in what this preacher man had to say. They'd shout loud, "Un-hunh's" and "Amens!" What was I missing?

And then there was my prayer life. Or the lack there-of. It's not that I didn't want to pray but the whole concept of talking to God felt weird. I tried to copy the prayers of those who seemed like they knew they were doing more than talking to the air.

But then my quirky self would sneak in and leave me feeling foolish for what I'd just said to the God of the Universe. "Dear Lord, take this food to the nourishment of my body. (Good so far.) And if you could change the molecular structure of these cheesy fries to be like carrot sticks that sure would be bomb-diggity." (Hunh?)

Like the saying goes, "We've come a long way baby." Except that I'm pretty sure you could still trip me up in finding certain passages in the Bible. And I'm pretty sure you might still hear me say bomb-diggity in my prayers. But according to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, I think He's okay with that.

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

For me, sincerity and simplicity are two keys to unlocking spiritual frustration with both my Bible study and my prayers. Why do we make it all so complicated? In Colossians 4:2 we are instructed to, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (NIV). I am challenged by these words today. Do I get up from reading my Bible and praying and start intentionally watching for God? Do I sense His activity and remember to be thankful? Watchful and thankful are great words to ponder when I start trying to overcomplicate my time with Jesus.

I think a few honest moments spent with God reading His Word, sharing our heart, and listening for His instruction are quite perfect. I might even say they are bomb-diggity.

Dear Lord, I want to connect with You through my prayers and my Bible reading. Help me to be watchful and sense Your activity in my life. Help me to connect the verses I read and the prayers I pray to circumstances You bring my way each day. Thank You for loving me even when I'm sweating in church. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Click here to visit Lysa’s blog where she is featuring a list of verses that will help transform your prayer life!

Lysa is speaking in over 40 cities this year and she’d love to meet you! To check for a city near you, click here.

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. This book is the resource you have been looking for to learn to read the Bible and really apply it to your everyday life. It would make a perfect gift for Mother’s Day!

Also, consider doing this study in a group setting by ordering Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl DVD set – Contains 6 sessions lasting 15-20 minutes each on one DVD for only $24.99! Perfect for your Bible study group or as a neighborhood Book Club, and it includes a free leader’s guide.

Application Steps:
Read Colossians 1 and see what words stir your heart today. Write them on a 3x5 index card. As you go through your day be watchful and look to see why God drew your attention to these words. Then thank Him for His presence and His provision.

Do you find it interesting that Jesus told us not to babble in our prayers? Have you ever felt spiritually frustrated in your Bible reading and prayer life? How might simplicity and sincerity help with this?

Power Verses:
Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (NIV)

Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (NIV)

© 2010 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Blogger PamO said...

Colossians 1:9-12, Paul's prayer for them, is my prayer for myself!
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[d] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
I struggle so much with prayer --- I feel as if my words are bouncing off the ceiling.
Thank you for your faithfulness to shepherding us --- I love your wit and am inspired by your simple faith!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate this devotion today, I think sometimes I feel I have to be awe inspiring in my prayers because I see people in our church pray with such might. I do not like to pray out loud to much because as I am prayng for someone I tend to repeat myself. I think I just want to speak simple prayers to God. I am not a longwinded person either, but I feel as if I am not doing right if I spend just alittle time in prayer. I was told that if you continue to pray that your prayers will get longer, and maybe I am failing God in this area. I know my schedule may not be as hectic as yours, but I find the day slip by and I have only prayed alittle or think upon the Lord alittle through out the day. At night when it is time to go to bed I lay in my bed and whisper a prayer to God before I go to sleep. I just dont know if this is enough. I need some advice. Denise

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet. Thanks for the words, Lysa. You are da bomb! (diggity). Also, I see you too are a Tim Hawkins fan? ;-)

Blogger Lysa TerKeurst said...

Dear Anonymous...

I don't think it's the length of our prayers that matters as much as our simple sincerity. For me, it's better to pray several times a day with absolute sincerity than to try and lengthen my prayers just for the sake of appearing more spiritual. God just wants our heart and I can tell by your gentle spirit, you love God.

Rest assured in that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Simplicity at it's sincerest!

I am so grateful for this devotional....it was and you are such a breath of fresh air...!

Many Blessings to you and the staff at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Blogger Amy Ackerman said...

Your discussion about the cheesy fries reminded me of a Tim Hawkins video about church. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend you do. He is a very funny and clean comedian, and I think every Christian should at least watch one of his videos.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was like you read my mind...or I guess that would be the Lord speaking to me through you. I am a stay at home mom to a two year old precious little boy...so quiet time is hard to get around here!!! Just last night I was worried I may not be spending long enough reading and praying and today you reminded me that the Lord knows the thoughts & intents of our heart...and no matter if I spend 20 min. or 2 hours alone with him, if I am doing so with all sencerity he will bless the time I put in!!! Thank you for the blessing of your words today!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a prayer service at our church's pm service recently. It was so refreshing to hear the children in our group pray. My 5 year old granddaughter didn't pray that day but the next day she was at our house for dinner and wanted to say the prayer for our food. So she started out her prayer by saying, Dear Daddy. . . ." I was so blessed.

Watch and pray or pray and then watch God work. That is exactly what makes prayer so exciting because then we see how God works according to our prayers.

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