Being from South Carolina I’m very familiar with the idea of “comfort food”. It’s the rich stuff that makes you feel good on the inside. Now that I’ve been away from home for over a decade, comfort food has even richer meaning. On the odd occasion that I enjoy fried chicken, with biscuits and gravy, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, green been casserole and a big glass of sweet tea, it takes me home. I feel more comfortable, like putting on an old pair of jeans that fit just right.
That feeling may be a great goal for the end of a good meal, but it’s not a great goal for the end of your prayers. “Comfort Prayers” are the prayers we pray asking God to take us back to some place in time where everything feels comfortable. There are some reasons why “comfort prayers” don’t work:
1.) God doesn’t want you to move backwards. He wants you to move forward into the unknown. Yes, His plans are good. But they aren’t to take you back to your past, no matter how good you’ve convinced yourself it was.
2.) You’re not supposed to be in control. “Comfort prayers” are usually an ask for God to bring things back to the place where “you can handle it”. But God doesn’t want you to just handle it. He doesn’t mind you feeling uncomfortable enough to have to rely on a relationship with Him!
3.) They’re not Scriptural. Almost every reference to prayer in the New Testament involves an agreement with Heaven or praying “in the name of Jesus”. “Comfort prayers” are completely centered on our own interests with no consideration for the will and purpose of God.
I have been guilty of praying “comfort prayers”…a lot. Even when I think I’m praying God’s will I catch myself praying He’ll do it in a specific way that I understand, a way that puts me back in control. For instance, when I have a need I often pray for more money. Having more money puts me in control. I understand how that works. But God has a million ways to meet that need. I have to choose to trust God to meet the need the way He decides to do it.
Forget about being comfortable. A life of faith means being outside your comfort zone. Actually…instead of completely forgetting about comfort, learn to be comfortable trusting in God when you’re not in control. Ask yourself, is this prayer an attempt to put me back in control or an attempt to agree with God?
How about you? Have you ever caught yourself praying “comfort prayers”? How do you turn them into effective prayers?