I wish I could say that my prayer life is one defined by consistent authenticity and audacious faith, but if I’m being honest, prayer is one of the places where I struggle the most in my walk with God. I struggle with slowing down long enough to pray. I struggle with finding a quiet place and getting alone in my “prayer closet.” I struggle with praying big prayers with big faith. I struggle with being consistent and fervent with my prayers. I even struggle sometimes with following through with a promise I make to pray for someone.
What I realized recently though is that the place I may struggle the most in prayer is with expectancy. I’ve discovered that I “go through the motions” of prayer more often than I would like to admit.
I love our corporate prayer times at church because it reminds me to pray with faith and expectancy. At my church we meet weekly for a dedicated hour of corporate prayer and it is truly a beautiful sight. It’s also quite obvious that there is an atmosphere of expectancy. There’s really no other way to explain why hundreds of people would show up to pray together in the middle of the week.
We don’t just show up to pray. We show up to pray to watch God move.
As I glanced around the room at a recent prayer night, I felt like God began to point this out to me.
I watched as hands were laid on the sick and the broken hearted with an expectancy of healing. I watched as heads were bowed and hands were clasped with an expectancy of hope. I watched as an entire room stood to its feet with arms lifted with an expectancy of His presence.
You might be thinking that it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to go through the trouble of praying if you didn’t expect something to happen—but I can assure you that it is quite easy to do.
It’s not that I doubt God’s power; it’s just that I so easily fall into a pattern of checklist Christianity. I make prayer a religious task instead of a natural part of my relationship with Him. Instead of praying with heartfelt expectation, I often find myself just going through the motions. I allow it to become more discipline than delight—more duty than devotion.
Prayer without expectancy is prayer without power. And what I learned by watching a room filled with expectant prayer is that if I am praying without expectancy then I’m really praying without faith. And prayer without faith is not really prayer at all—it’s just empty religion.