Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Prayer – Don’t Compare

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

21st January 2012

It is not uncommon for Christians to be dissatisfied with their prayer life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was executed by the Nazis shortly before the end of World War II, once admitted that his prayer life was something of which he was ashamed.

Martin Luther, too, confessed to being deeply dissatisfied with his ability to pray even though he spent many hours in prayer.

Why do faithful and dedicated Christians often feel guilty about their prayer lives?

One of the reasons is that we compare ourselves with how other people pray. We look at another Christian and feel things like:

“I wish I could pray like that” or
“I should pray as often or as long as Mr. so and so does”

Although the human tendency is to make comparisons with others the Bible warns against such an approach:

‘We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you’. (2 Corinthians 10:12–13)

When we compare ourselves with others one of two things will happen:
We will either feel that our prayers are better than other peoples and become vain and proud. Or we will think that our prayers are not as good as other peoples and so feel inferior and guilty.

So let me suggest that as you develop your own prayer life you do not compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t feel obliged to follow a pattern of prayer used by others, but instead find one that is right for you.

Though we can learn from others, we must not allow their experiences to overawe us or allow us to become judgemental.

Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17 to ‘pray continually.’ The ‘how we do that’ we must work out for ourselves.


Dear Father,

Thank you for what we can learn from other Christians, but please help us not to compare our prayer lives with others. Guide us dear Lord to develop our own pattern and style of prayer and not be concerned how well we are doing compared to our neighbour.

In Jesus’ name.

Have a good week developing your prayer life.

« 2: Prayer Is Not Easy — 4: Prayer – Jesus’ challenge »

Pastor Barry

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