Is there a wrong way to pray?

James 4:3 NIV “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”




There must have been a time in your life when you prayed and you felt like it wasn’t answered; you doubt the effectiveness of the prayer. This is called prayer insecurity. One thing that this always causes is doubt and it is mostly because you feel you have prayed the wrong way. In society today, people pray in different ways. This has brought up the question today, is there a wrong way to pray?


What James 4:3 is saying is that we did not get the answers to our prayers because we prayed with the wrong motives or we prayed the wrong prayers not because of how we prayed. There is a clear difference between how you pray and the prayers you pray.


There is no wrong way to pray to God in Christianity as long as the prayer is genuine. Different things are going through the minds of many Christians at a time. The way Christians pray to God is different, we cannot pray the same way. The way we accepted Christ is different and then we are using a different approach in prayer. What is important is that the prayer is genuine. The way you pray at a particular time depends on the situation you find yourself. You cannot expect someone who works in the bank pray like they were in the church. You cannot expect a driver on duty to close his eyes to pray.


This Christian Journey is personal, it is between you and God through Christ. It is only you who knows what works for you, you know how to build your spiritual life – you know the things to do and the way you accepted Christ might be different from the way others accepted him. It doesn’t matter how you pray, not praying at all will be the worst thing to do.


A man was telling his friends that He prays every time, they were engineers always working except for lunchtimes. They were confused because they have not seen him shout or make gestures to show he was praying. He told them he prays in his heart. They said it cannot be answered because it is the wrong way to pray. What they don’t know is that there are no wrong ways to pray, just make sure you are praying a genuine prayer.


How do we know a genuine or an authentic prayer?


1. The prayer must be prayed in Jesus name.

If you like, you can pray in your mind – God hears it because He is the Omniscient. When we say God is Omniscient, we are saying that He knows everything and He knows what’s going on your mind. The most important is that you pray in the name of Jesus. We must not forget that the only way that God recognizes is Jesus. It is not possible to go to God without the name of Jesus. John 14:6 KJV “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


2. The prayer must be backed with faith.

It doesn’t matter where you are, the people around you, or how you say the prayer, if you pray it with faith believing that God will answer it, you have prayed the right way. That is what God is about, that is what He checks first, faith in you.


Hebrews 11:6 KJV “But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

The truth is that it is not every time you pray saying words or shouting them aloud. People believe that if you want to pray some deliverance prayers, you have to shout saying the prayer. What the Bible says is that the prayers of the righteous will always make a great impact. The bible didn’t say shouting while praying is what will make the prayer effective, it is the faith that works. James 5:14-15.


3. The prayer must be prayed with the word of God.

The Bible told us that the word of God is alive and powerful – if we apply that living word to our prayers, it doesn’t matter how it is prayed, it will be powerful. Hebrews 4:12 NIV. The word of God gives life to the prayers we pray when we use it in the prayer.


4. Let the prayer come from your heart.

Prayers prayed with passion are genuine prayers. Praying with zeal helps to pray with meaning. When you pray and your heart is not in what you are praying, you are easily carried away in your thoughts, it is not genuine prayer.


What makes people feel there is a wrong way and place to pray is because of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6. Jesus was not saying it is bad or a sin to pray in the public or pray in a gathering. What he was saying here is that you shouldn’t pray just because you want people to see that you do pray. You know when you act for people to see you are holy. That is a wrong motive and that is what James 4:3 is talking about.