The habit of prayer can be a bad habit.
Now, before you get upset with that statement, let me explain this, I will use the analogy of a turn signal on a vehicle. In most nations it is required by law, and common sense, that if you are going to move your vehicle to a different location on the driving surface that you are to indicate that action to those traveling on that road with you by use of your vehicle’s turn signal. It is, as they say, a good habit to do, but if there is no one on that road with you, why would you use your signal?
Any habit that you perform without conscience thought of what you are doing is a bad habit, including prayer.
I am not a big fan of long, drawn out prayers at mealtime, give thanks to the Lord for what He has set before you and start eating. Each evening the words may seem similar, but never quite the same. Each time you decide to pray you must keep one singular thought in mind, you are entering into the throne room of God Himself, in humility, but with Hebrews 4:16 in mind. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
You are going before your Father, and yes, He loves you dearly, but as all fathers are to be treated, not withstanding our human frailties in that area, with great respect and due adoration. We come before Him to praise His name, to make our request, to give thanks no matter what the answer is, and then get back to the business of glorifying Him in this world.
The habit of prayer can be detrimental when these thoughts are not put into action in our minds before we even ask to be permitted to enter into His throne room.
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt. 6:7)
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” (Amos 5:21)
This is why prayer can turn into not only a bad habit, but an offense to the Lord, for we give no real thought to what we want to say, what we need or desire, who it is we are approaching, we praise less and ask for more.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7) When we are not right with the people of God, our prayers will not be heard.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24) If we are not right with them, not even our offerings will be accepted.
Rote repetition is not prayer, reading out of a prayer book is not prayer, the humble heart from the child of God seeking the will of the Father solely for His glory is prayer that is heard, and answered.
We pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit, always in a humble attitude of thanksgiving, always for His glory, always in acceptance of the answer to that prayer, no matter what the answer is. “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
If you want to pray like the Lord Jesus Christ, that is how your prayers should end, every time.
If you do not plan on what you want to say to the Father, you will find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over during the course of your life, you will find yourself offering vain, repetitive words with no true offering of the heart to Him, and He will stop listening.
Perhaps this will help some of you in this area, imagine yourself standing outside the throne room of the Most High, at the doors that lead into His presence, and you are the tenth person in line waiting for your turn to be allowed entrance to ask your request of Him. What else could possibly be in your mind but that moment when it is your turn to step into His presence?
Each time you begin to pray, make sure your heart has been prepared first, that is a good habit to get into.