Are You Praying Popcorn Prayers?

May 2, 2013

There have been seasons of life when I only prayed “popcorn prayers.” I popped them up in traffic, in the shower, or as I ran out the door to work. After some petitions weren’t answered how I desperately hoped—it was easier not to ask for what I truly desired than risk disappointment one more time.

Having a shallow prayer life felt safe.

If we struggle with trusting God, praying for what we know only God can accomplish, or for those things we sincerely want can feel dangerous — like our hearts have been stripped bare. Fully engaging in prayer can make us feel vulnerable before Him. To avoid discomfort, we may separate our desires from prayer. So we only ask Him for what hasn’t captured our affections, or those things we know He’ll grant. We pray “popcorn prayers.”

Live on the Cliff Edge of Daring Prayer

This brings me to a question: Is feeling safe and comfortable the goal of the Christian life? Is it the best thing to “pray it safe?”

I have to admit, there are times when I want to stand on the cliff edge of prayer, certain that only God can provide what I need, and if He doesn’t, that disaster will be mine. There is something exhilarating about living in total desperation for Him.

Other times, I want to live predictably. I don’t want God to upset the apple cart of my carefully-arranged life. Listen up: If we insist on being in control rather than allow Him to steer our lives, we trade adventure with Him for the mundane, and a vibrant Christian life for comfort. Sure, we get to live in the spiritual safety zone, but there is no abundant internal life in that. To remain fully alive, we have to fully expect from God. Life with Him was meant to be lived by faith so that we can glorify Him. And, living by faith is fulfilling and rewarding, even when it’s not easy.

What About You?

What kind of prayers have you been praying lately? I encourage you to live on the cliff edge of prayer. Come boldly before His throne with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18). Don’t stop praying authentic, heart-felt prayers. And remember that the prayer that is never prayed is the one that is never answered.



48 Comments to “Are You Praying Popcorn Prayers?”

  • Naomi says:

    I’m leaning in, right now, to take hold of the ‘more than we can ask or imagine’ by asking big and dreaming bigger things for our lives and ministry. This article is a timely encouragement. Thank you and God bless you!

    • Naomi,

      One thing is for certain: that which God wills, God accomplishes. And, when you pray His will, it will come to pass. I know He wants to use you for His glory.

      Keep praying!
      Shana

  • Tee says:

    Describes me to a “T”. I want to do as God wants – live in total desperation for him, but it’s hard. I like (or at least, I used to) my safe, little world, where I just go through the motions. But lately, I’ve been feeling empty. Thanks for your post.

    • Hi, Tee.

      If you haven’t yet, get our your Bible this morning, find a quiet spot and read a little while you converse with Him about what it means. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you His truth. Have a talk with Him about what is on your heart and write down the truths He speaks to you. Just take a little time and He’ll show up!

      I pray He takes away your emptiness.

      Blessings,
      Shana

  • Wendy says:

    My prayer life will definitely be changing as a result of your convicting and encouraging message (due to my honest assessment of holding back and clinging to trees of controlled popcorn prayers that feel safe, rather than submiiting myself totally to God with abandoned, cliff-edge, fairh-filled prayers that will ultimately glorify God and bring untold joy to my life as well as to the lives of those who stand beside me! Thank you so much for helping me wake up spiritually this morning!!

    • Wendy,

      Wow! I think you got it. Your comment tells me that God has indeed been convicting you. Keep talking with Him today. Listen for His voice. I know He is going to reveal Himself to you.

      Blessings to you,
      Shana

  • sharon says:

    EXCELLENT…

  • Kirstin says:

    Thank you for this! My son just asked me what I was reading. It was great to share somethjng that he can easily remember, “popcorn prayer.” I popcorn prayer! This lovely reminder will help me let go of that and fulfill the way I really want and need to be praying. Thank you and Bless you.
    Kirstin
    Eph 6 constantly shows up in my life. It’s uncanny! Thank you for letting The Lord speak through you.

    • Hi, Kristin.

      I’m so glad that you were able to share this with your son. I am also glad that the Lord has been speaking to you through the words He gives me. What a great thing to be able to encourage one another.

      Blessings,
      Shana

  • Jim says:

    “The prayer that is never prayed is the prayer that is never answered” Thank You so much for your inspiration this morning!

  • Ken says:

    Dear Shana,

    Thank you for bringing “heart-felt,” thoughtful prayers into focus as an important, while risky, priority of our Christian lives. Part of my prayers each day are just traditional and trite, lacking the authenticity of a prayer fresh with praise and thanksgiving, repentance, and requests that are relevant to that given day. Other times, I bring out some of these specific things, but lack the courage to pull out my whole “list” and fearful of listening to God (the last step of prayer) for the things I need to hear from Him at that moment in time. The thought of turning over complete control to God sometimes scares me more than the prospect of having my own life spin hopelessly and aimlessly into a downward spiral. However, ultimately, I realize the only way to Heaven, and a wonderful relationship with our gracious God, is to be in genuine conversation with Him, thanking Him for all He has done for us, repenting of our sins, and asking of Him the things that only He can give. P.R.A.Y. = Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield. Thank you for bringing this all-important priority to light today, Shana!

    All for His glory,
    Ken

    • Ken,

      What a beautiful comment. I once heard someone say, “What if we really believed that God was listening?” I know that for myself, if I constantly and confidently knew that I have God’s ear, my prayer life would be different.

      It can be scary, for sure. Also when we know that God has the power to alter our lives, we can feel vulnerable. I get that. I pray that you will become more and more confident in surrendering to Him.

      I love your acronym, and your post is a reminder that it’s all for Him, we don’t just pray to make ourselves feel good.

      Be blessed today,
      Shana

  • Carla says:

    Wow!!! Thank you for this message. Today, I will start praying boldly. I have been stuck in my comfort zone for many years and its becoming a bondage. I pray for a total transformation of my life. Please pray for me!!!

    • Hi, Carla.

      Lord, make Carla bold. Give her the confidence to come to you with all that she is, with the faith that you hear, and with the patience to not only speak but to listen. Meet her in the secret place! Amen!

  • danny says:

    Great word Shana! When we are living on the edge and pressing in to find His will, we are doing just what He told us to do. Taking up our cross and following after Him. Our flesh doesn’t like that crucifying stuff does it? It’s not comfortable at times is it? But Oh! How exciting life can be when we do see His will, and He allows us to join Him in His work!

    • Hi, Danny.

      That is so true. The flesh struggles against submitting to Christ. And it’s true that life is exciting when our prayers line up with His will. It’s power unleashed in our lives. There is nothing more thrilling than being aligned with His will.

      Blessings,
      Shana

  • Craig says:

    WOW !! This really makes you think how you pray and what you pray for. I still believe though the spirit of God has been leading me to pray for who and what I have been praying about in the past 6 to 7 months. No answers are yet reality as the other person I care so much about has issues that I can not do anything to make some things happen sooner than later, faster than slower, as this is all in Gods control. Everything that I, and I am sure maybe the other person has been praying for are all in the eyes ans ears of God who is not ignoring our prayers. When the stories of Jacob, and his life was all favored by God, and when Jacob did so many ungodly acts in his life, Who is to say what I pray about is worthless prayers when God can change one persons heart and mind by another persons act of prayer and concern for anyone they may care about ? So I will continue to pray for whoever I believe needs prayer, no matter if I benefit from the prayers or not. I may not get a reward here on earth which is temporary, rather I may get an eternal reward in heaven that never stops and is forever. Maybe then I will have what I desire now so why worry what I do not get here. As Paul says, To live is Christ or to die with Christ, and to die is gain.

    • Hi, Craig.

      I love your spirit to continue to pray even if the results are not immediately seen in the circumstances. I am reminded of stories in which people prayed for loved ones for years before they saw the fruit of their prayers. As long as the Lord is prompting you to pray, keep praying!

      God’s blessings to you today,
      Shana

  • Andi says:

    Shana,

    Thank you for this post, your posts always seem to strike a chord with me. This one was could not have been more relevant to today. I struggle with asking for “more” out of my life when I look around and see how truly blessed I already am. But recently my fear of how God will answer my prayers and what he might ask of me, has been keeping me from asking for what I want and truly need. My prayers have been variations of the same, but most recently I seem to approach God with nothing left to say. I get stuck with not knowing how to or being too afraid to really ask. Thank you for the reminder that my prayers need to be more authentic, free from fear or at least admittedly fearful, and that I need to let go and trust God.

    Thanks!

    • Hi, Andi.

      I am glad that this post spoke to you. I have often been reminded that God blesses us so that we can fulfill His will and glorify Him. I know that He will provide all of your needs. There is no formula to ask; just lift up your voice and present your requests to Him.

      I am saying a prayer right now that God will meet you where you are.

      Blessings,
      Shana

  • Annette says:

    Sometimes I Just ThanK Him The Whole TiMe I Pray

  • Marina says:

    Thank you Shana! I am so grateful for prayer, that I can seek God and trust I Him. Thanks for the reminder to press into prayer, believing God for the inevitable! Encouraging!

  • Arnie says:

    You said to come boldly before God. Deuteronomy 13: 4 says Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. In my thoughts boldly and fear are completely different. Can you help me understand?

    • Hi, Arnie.

      Great question. In Hebrews 4:14-16, Scripture says that we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence because He sympathizes with our weaknesses. To fear God means to have reverence for Him, not to be afraid of Him in the sense that we are terrified of Him. Does that make sense? I hope it helps.

      Blessings!
      Shana

      • Arnie says:

        Thanks for explaining the word fear for me. It was a word in the Bible that I had the wrong meaning to. Thank you.

        • You are welcome, Arnie. If you visit http://www.khouse.org, you can look up meanings of words in the original Hebrew and Greek from the Old and New Testaments. On that site, just visit Blue Letter Bible on the left navigation bar. It will help you find the meanings of words.

          Blessings,
          Shana

  • TIm says:

    Thanks for this reminder. What a coincidence (God has really been giving me a lot of “coincidences” lately) that I listened to a Francis Chan sermon on prayer this morning right before reading this devotion. We can do nothing in our power, but God can do anything through us. Oh that I surrender my efforts and reach out to Him constantly.

    • Hey, Tim.

      What a great thought that we can do nothing in our own power, but God can do anything through us.
      Can you imagine what God would do through us if we would surrender to Him and follow Him closely all the time in belief?

      Thanks for your comment. Come back again, okay?

      Shana

    • Wendy says:

      Hi Tim,
      Thanks for posting the Francis Chan video . . . I didn’t have time earlier this week to watch it but came back to it early this morning now that it’s the weekend, I’m glad I did because I really learned a lot about prayer and the importance of abiding in and walking closely with the Lord if I want God to hear and answer my prayers. I also learned some good techniques for presenting the gospel. If you have any other good videos or resources to help strengthen my walk with the Lord, please send them my way.
      Thanks again for sharing something so good, and God bless!
      Wendy

  • carol says:

    Romans 8:26
    The Holy Spirit helps us in our praying
    “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
    Keep on praying!

  • Keeron says:

    Thank you for your thought and insights Shana. We do need to pray more for the “full meal” and not just popcorn.

    Blessings,

    Keeron

  • Hannah says:

    I love the verbiage, “fully expect from God” – that is a childlike faith with full dependence and trust in His Almighty power.

    It makes me want to sing, “Our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above, With wisdom power and love, Our God is an Awesome God!”….words by Michael W. Smith

    • Hi, Hannah.

      That phrase is challenging for me as well. Fully expect from God. Oh! Can you imagine what He’ll do with/for/through those who dare to believe Him?

      Shana

  • Jill says:

    Our bible study group is reading the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and this goes right along with it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Dan says:

    I agree 100% with your points about a shallow and safe prayer life. We must never forget that scripture commands us to pray constantly. I believe popcorn prayers help us to do this. As far as content, they must be full of praises, adoration, love and respectful, sincere admiration worthy of the creator of the universe. This is what God longs for and is why and what we were created for… worship and love.

    Blessings to you Shana

    Dan Hughes

    • Hi, Dan.

      Thanks for the great insight about Popcorn Prayers being a good thing when coming from a heart with authentic love for God. I like the idea of them being full of praises, adoration, love, and respectful, sincere admiration.

      Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings,

      Shana

  • Wendy says:

    What wonderful comments on this topic of prayer! I decided to look up and share a few related scriptures which I hope will be encouraging and instructional–please note that God desires us to approach Him confidently, frequently, with faith vs. doubting, with proper motivation, and with a pure heart free from condemnation because we are keeping his commandments and doing what is pleasing in his sight! James 1:5-8 – But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways; 1 John 3:21-22 – Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight; Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Matthew 11:24 – Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you; Luke 11:10 – For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened; James 4:3 – You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures; Luke 8:48 – And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace; Matthew 9:28-29 – When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”; Hebrews 10:38 – But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing.

    • Hi, Wendy.

      Thank you so much for all that study you did on prayer to share here on Blueprint for Life. What a blessing! There are so many great promises in God’s Word. Powerful stuff.

      Blessings to you!

      Shana

  • Rick says:

    Shana,

    Thanks for the insight into your soul. I think we have all been guilty of this. I know I have prayed those prayers that seemingly bounce off our ceilings. More often they are “microwave prayers” though. We live moment to moment and the heat and fervor only remains as long as the food (thoughts) are warm in our minds.

    Lord, grant me grace when I don’t take time to hear You speak. Grant me peace when the world tumbles about me. Most of all, grant me understanding when my feeble prayers barely make it out of my mouth before I move to another “crisis”.

    Rick

    • Hi, Rick.

      You are so welcome. Your thoughts about living only moment to moment and for what is most pressing at the time is so true. While praying at all times (even as we are driving, running out the door to work, etc.) is characteristic of anyone who is walking closely with Christ, I believe that when we only pray this way, we miss out on deeper communion with Christ, sitting with Him, quietly listening, pressing in while reading His Word. There is nothing better than these times with the Savior.

      Thanks for the beautiful prayer and the great words. Maybe you should be a writer.

      Blessings. Come back again.
      Shana

  • brian says:

    I have a different definition of “popcorn prayers”. These are prayers that are quick but are said constantly through the day as situations arise so I am praying constantly instead of just long prayers once or twice a day…. there is merit in both

    • Brian,

      I agree; those kinds of Popcorn Prayers are positive! Keeping in constant communication with God from a sincere heart is important. Thanks for coming to see us.

      Shana

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