When Satan tries to interfere with our lives, he is subtle about it. He usually doesn’t try to mislead us in ways that would be obvious to us. Instead, he disguises himself so that we do not recognize what he's up to.
One way he does this is by attempting to turn us into spiritual perfectionists. Recently, I have fallen into this trap in my own experience with prayer.
It goes like this. Throughout the day, while juggling several different responsibilities, someone will pop into my head. For example, a friend who asked me to pray about a family relationship or a tough situation at work. Rather than taking a moment to pray for her right then, I feel guilty that I haven’t been praying for her. I’ve been so busy and wrapped up in my own to-do list, I haven’t done anything to encourage her. My priorities are all out of order and I feel like a terrible Christian.
Before I know it, Satan has twisted what was likely the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray for someone and turned it into a whirlwind of guilt and self-centeredness.
Another way spiritual perfectionism manifests itself is in my desire to not make a big deal out of my own “first-world problems.” Of course I hope to have perspective about how big our world is and how small many of my issues are by comparison. And it’s probably good to be aware of my place in the grander scheme of creation. But, when this leads me to stop talking to God about what is going on in my little world, Satan has successfully created a barrier in my conversations with God.
But there's a different path. Romans 8:1 reads, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
What if I accept the reality that sometimes I will forget to pray for people? What if I come to terms with the fact that I will often be distracted when I pray, and that my prayers may be self-centered at times? Then perhaps I can stop being surprised by this, accept my imperfections, and forge ahead because I know that God doesn’t condemn me! I want God to change me so that I pray how he wants, but he can’t do that if I've stopped praying altogether.
Better to be imperfect in prayer than to not pray at all.
Let’s not be fooled into thinking God expects perfection from us, but recognize what he has always known—that we aren't nearly good enough, and never will be! Thankfully, those who are in Christ Jesus are not condemned.
And that bold truth easily trumps any subtle lie that Satan may whisper.
Ashley Lokkesmoe earned her bachelor's degree at Wheaton College, and worked in education for seven years before becoming a stay at home mom. She is active in her church, runs half-marathons for fun, and loves to travel.