Build A Better Prayer Life (By Avoiding This Perfectionism Pitfall)

You can build a better prayer life by avoiding this perfectionism pitfall! Read to find out more!

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. (Hebrews 3:4, NKJV)

Prayer is a little like building a house. It takes a plan, a whole lot of time and effort, the right tools and a master builder.

Now if there’s anything a perfectionist likes, it’s a good plan, right? We like the tools, and we are willing to put in the time and effort. As a matter of fact, we are driven in many ways (and not all of them are healthy ways). We want to be efficient, and we focus on that end result, often at the expense of the process it takes to get there. These are all things we need to keep an eye on in our day to day life situations.

But we also have to watch out for these things in our prayer lives, because if we are not careful, we’ll focus so much on the plan that we’ll forget who the builder is.

If we are not careful, we’ll focus so much on the plan that we’ll forget who the builder is.Click To Tweet
For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. (Hebrews 3:4, NKJV)Click To Tweet

For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. (Hebrews 3:4, NKJV)

This verse tells us who the builder really is, doesn’t it? Every house is built by someone, but the One behind everything is God.

I think there are some valuable insights in this verse that we can apply to prayer. We’ll find these insights inside the meanings of the Greek root words from this verse. (I found these word meanings using Strong’s Concordance and HELPS Word Studies. You’ll find there free online over at Bible Hub on this page, this page and this page. 

In this verse, the word “all” is taken from the Greek root word pás which has an emphasis of “one piece at at time.”

The world “built” is taken from the Greek word kataskeuázō which means to prepare or make exactly ready by skillfully using implements according to a design.

The Greek word for “God” is theós which refers to God who owns and sustains all things.

If we take these meanings and think about how they might apply to building a healthy prayer life, we’ll gain some valuable insights.

First of all, a good prayer life is built one piece at a time. I think the key word here is “time.” It takes a lot of time listening and absorbing God’s truths to build a solid spiritual life. We might think of what we learn during our prayer time each day as a brick. We lay each brick one on top of the other and eventually we have a wall. Prayer is the mortar that holds all those bricks together so that we eventually have the walls that form a strong house.

Secondly, God is the creator and owner of everything. He sustains us. This includes sustaining us in our prayer lives, too. I love that this verse tells us that whatever it is “built” is made exactly ready using the right tools according to a design. This means that the builder does these things:

He makes everything exactly ready.
He uses the right tools.
He builds according to a specific design.

But most importantly, let’s remember who the builder is. God is the “owner” of our house, the Master Builder. He holds the plan, and He hands us to tools, and then He sustains us as we use them.

All this again shows us He equips us! (To read more about how you can be equipped in your prayer life, go HERE, HERE,  HERE and HERE. You’ll find helpful printables on those pages as well.)

Prayer is hard because it’s not concrete. It’s a place where there are usually no instant fixes. It’s a house that takes a lot of time to build, and it’s only completed one small step at a time. Its beauty is only revealed after much effort and most likely quite a few hardships.

Unfortunately, the beauty that would develop over time can be marred by perfectionism if we are not careful.

  • Perfectionism might lead us to focus on the plan or method more than the time it takes to
    Be Focused on Godmake it through the growth process. It’s easy to become rigidly attached to the steps we’re supposed to take each day, and we can drive ahead rather than wait for God.
    We have to be flexible and patient when God is working during our prayer times. Sometimes God may be leading you to just put that notebook away. Give yourself permission to do that and don’t feel like a failure if you don’t use it every day. It’s a tool, to be used a little at a time. Pick and choose what you need and what you have time for that day. And remember, sometimes your prayer times will flow better without a method or plan!
  • We might focus on our own abilities to get things done within our prayer times. It’s possible to be driven to get to an end result at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. That relationship takes time, an open heart and a lot of humility. This can’t be rushed, and it often does not go as we have planned.
  • We also might feel as if we’ve found all the answers because we’ve found this really neat prayer method. Surely using this will solve our problems! But it’s not the prayer plan or method that will transform our lives. Only God can do that.

My main point here is that we can’t be relying on our prayer plans or our prayer notebooks to transform us. And we can not rely on ourselves either. It’s not anything we do on our own. It is only God. He is the Master Builder and the house He builds will protect us in the storms of life. 

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB)

 

 

 

P.S.  **Please be sure to read the section under “Let’s Talk” which you will find below.

Focus Verses
You’ll find each one of the verses listed in this post is linked to its page at Bible Hub where you’ll find many free resources for further study. Just click on the verse reference to get there.

**Let’s Talk**
Have you ever felt like a failure when you don’t make it through all the steps of a method that you are using? The enemy wants to keep you feeling defeated because He doesn’t want you using the tools and resources that you’ve found helpful. Give yourself permission to use part of the plan (or none of it on some days!) and remind yourself that prayer can be unpredictable. It’s OK if you don’t make it through every step! Psssst! I’ll even let you in on a little secret. This prayer notebook is what I use all the time, but I hardly ever make it through every step in one day. I gave myself permission – permission to use it in parts, permission to set it aside briefly, and permission to let go of feeling like a failure in my prayer life. Give yourself permission, too!

Let’s Pray
Dear Heavenly Father, We praise You for being our Master Builder. Thank you for giving us the tools we need to help us in our prayer lives. We ask you to help us lay aside the things that entangle us so that we can run the race with endurance and continue to look only at You. In Jesus name, Amen.

Next Week
Next week we’ll talk more about perfectionism pitfalls in our prayer lives.

This post is linked in other encouraging places! Click HERE to find out where!

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32 thoughts on “Build A Better Prayer Life (By Avoiding This Perfectionism Pitfall)

  1. I definitely struggle with this. I once made these index cards that contained different prayer points and I used them to guide my prayer times. Unfortunately, I spent more time making them then I did praying. I finally had to put them aside. Like you are pointing out, it’s not about having a perfect method, it’s about focusing on God. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Leslie, this is so great, I know that sometimes I can get so focused on the plan at hand, that nothing else matters, but it is so important to set aside time to just get lost in His presence! Thanks for linking up with #TuneInThursday this week. See you next time!

  3. This really hit home for me today. I find myself becoming very structured during my quiet times, and many times I have realized I am more focused on checking things off a list than the actual prayer. Thank you for the wonderful reminder that praying how the Holy Spirit leads you to pray is more important than following all the steps you made for yourself! Visiting from Moments of Hope link up.

    1. Hi Kathy, We’re in the same boat. I struggle with that often and I my writing is really just my own reminders to myself. I’m glad I’m not alone! Thank so much for stopping by and for commenting! Blessings!

  4. I love the analogy you use of building a prayer life like a builder using bricks, one brick on top of another, it’s such a helpful way of looking at it. Plus I like that you emphasise the time aspect of developing a prayer life. Thank you.

    1. Penny, Thank you for the kind comments. I really appreciate you stopping by! And yes, we have to stick with it! Developing a prayer life takes time!

  5. Love the image of building it brick by brick! My husband is a builder so this post was fitting to me! Sharing this:)
    Visiting from Grace&Truth

  6. I appreciate your post as I’ve noticed over the years that I can get so caught up in having the “perfect” prayer time in regards to amount of time set aside, that it has kept me from spending time with the Lord if it wasn’t just the right situation. I’m learning to have times that are short and more scattered throughout the day. Perfectionism limits us from experiencing the abundant life with Jesus…I’m convinced!

  7. Really encouraging read, Leslie – thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 It’s definitely a really helpful way to look at it, and I love the definitions of the Greek words – I often look up the Interlinear Bible on BibleHub – it’s a great tool! God bless.

    1. Lois, Thank you for stopping by! I love looking up the Greek words. There’s so many insights to be found when we do that! And Bible Hub has a really helpful Interlinear tool as you say! Thanks again for the kind words! Blessings!

  8. I really like this idea that we build our prayer life brick by brick, one thing at a time. Prayer has always been a challenge for me — and it still is, taking the time to actually sit down for a good moment to pray. As a perfectionist, I often feel disappointed when I don’t get it perfect right away. But this is such a good way of thinking about it, one brick at a time. Thank you for sharing this, Leslie! God bless you!

    1. Ronja, I think perfectionism is what has made prayer so hard for me, too. I just always feel like what I do is not good enough. And I’m like you. I want to get it exactly right. I’ve learned to give myself grace, adapt the plan, and keep moving forward. I have a little video over on my Instagram this week about this very topic. Thank so much for visiting and commenting today! Blessings!

  9. He owns the house. I like that, Leslie. In that context, when you think about it, how sad it must make him when he’s waiting on us to speak into that house He owns. So thankful for a God who hears, and speaks and cares enough to call us His. — Thanks for sharing, Leslie. ((hug))

  10. Leslie, prayer is a continual struggle for me, and the deception is rampant, for any little “success” I experience in meeting with God is always met with my inner voice of perfectionism that brands it as “not enough.” Thanks for addressing this here, and for your commitment to grace-oriented meeting with God.

    1. Michele, That “not enough” voice is always trying to talk to me, too. Nice to know others understand! Thank you for stopping by today! Blessings!

  11. So important to remember that a plan helps, but is not to enslave us. We make plans but God directs our steps.

    Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TuneInThursday and #HeartEncouragement

    1. Thanks, Natalie! A plan is good and it can help bring out what is in the heart, but even in prayer we can focus too much on the plan and leave out the time it takes for the process. I’ve learned that the hard way! Thanks for stopping by today!

  12. Thanks for the reminder: “it’s not the prayer plan or method that will transform our lives. Only God can do that.”
    It’s about the relationship, not the method or plan!

  13. Prayer is a process, not a goal to be achieved. I think you are right in saying that we have to trust the Master builder in order for prayer to be transforming, but at the same time, we need to stick with it and be diligent in seeking Him and yielding to His work in our souls. Thanks for the post!

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