Why Prayer Has Become One-Sided & What To Do About It

“There isn’t really much you can do besides wait.”

Those words. Those pesky little words.

We live in a society where it is darn near impossible to wait for anything. We have fast food, high-speed Internet, same-day delivery, and text messaging where we can watch our friend typing back.

Have you stopped to think that maybe your prayer has become one-sided? It's true of almost all of us - this idea of talking more than we listen, or not listening at all. Why is our prayer this way? Well, for several reasons. And those same reasons are how we can truly improve and revamp our prayer lives!

And this means that we become frustrated when Facebook doesn’t load in three seconds, our pizza delivery is late, or our friend forgot to hit “send” after several minutes of typing that message.

We also get frustrated when we don’t hear from God.

We throw out our prayer requests and open our Bibles looking for a response. We beg – sometimes on our knees – for the answer to our problem, our dilemma, our concern. And sometimes, we don’t hear anything.

Actually, I should probably make the argument that we often don’t hear anything.

I believe that we often don’t hear because our prayer is one-sided.

You see, prayer is designed to be a conversation – a back-and-forth encounter where we listen as much as a talk. Yes, you read that right.

Prayer is about listening just as much as you talk.

Our prayer lives are one-sided & we must make a change. We must boldly approach the throne with words and with listening ears. We must learn how to pray and listen for God.

Why prayer has become one-sided:

  • We’re too distracted.

Sure, we may enter into a time of prayer. But is the phone sitting on the table near you? The computer open on the desk in front of you? Or the iPad flashing messages beside you? These are distractions.

It’s difficult to hear the Lord when your mind is cluttered with things of the world. The texts, emails, alerts, and updates can wait.

It's difficult to hear from the Lord when your mind is cluttered with things of the world. Click To Tweet
  • We’re too busy.

When was the last time you stopped the busyness for an entire hour – an entire hour devoted to reading the Word and communicating with God? It’s difficult to do in this day and age, but the rewards reaped are huge. This means quieting the mind, slowing the day, and possibly saying no to a thing or two.

  • We’re too untrusting.

I also believe that we’re afraid God won’t answer. We’re afraid that His way won’t be the best. We’re afraid that our plan is better and might be ruined. I’m raising my hand high, because this is me. It’s a trust issue, isn’t it? When we believe our own ways and make our own plans, there isn’t much need to stop and wait for God. There isn’t much need to stay still in His presence.

  • We’re too uncomfortable.

We’re never silent, are we? We have music playing while we curl our hair and the washing machine humming while we read. We have noise machines to sleep and radios in our cars. Sitting in silence is downright uncomfortable. But sitting in silence makes time for holy moments with God.

Have you stopped to think that maybe your prayer has become one-sided? Need to learn how to pray and listen for God? It's true of almost all of us. Read here to learn what you should do about it!

So, what should we do about this one-way prayer? What can we change?

  • Set aside all distractions.

Be intentional. Be strong. Turn off your gadgets & your music. Be with God.

  • Make time for prayer.

At first, spending time this way will not feel natural. I promise. You will feel like you should be doing something else, like there is a better way to spend your hour. I do not believe that.

I used to be this person – the one who couldn’t sit still for two minutes without thinking that I was being lazy or unproductive. I am beyond grateful that God redeemed this part of my life, but it took time. It took making time.

  • Trust that God will answer in His time.

This is also a struggle spot for me. Maybe it’s a tough concept for all of us, with our human nature and our tendency to live from the sinful parts of ourselves. But I believe that we must learn to live from a place of trust – real, deep-rooted trust. And this means surrender of our own plans and purposes and thoughts.

  • Get comfortable.

Get comfortable spending time in silence, listening for the voice of God however he chooses to speak to you. Turn off the music – at least for the first few times. Take your Bible and a pen to a silent part of your house and just be.

We no longer have to think that, “the only thing we can do is wait.” We can embrace the truth that God allows us to wait so that we can grow, learn, and change.

Yes, it will be uncomfortable and difficult for the first few weeks. But take it from someone who has trudged this road before – with much resilience, I should add. It is worth it.

God will talk. You will be changed.


Have you heard from the Lord in a sweet way? Have you silenced your life to sit in the uncomfortable until you were comfortable? Share your experience in the comments below!

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11 thoughts on “Why Prayer Has Become One-Sided & What To Do About It

  1. Your post is right on time. From God to you to me. I just finished reading a book about hearing God’s voice. Your post is an add- on. Thank you.

    1. I’m so glad, Patricia! I believe God gives me messages others (and myself) need to hear – so your encouragement is sweet. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. This is something I really needed to read today. My prayer time this morning (and so often) is full of distractions. I’m not someone who is comfortable with silence. I had a pastor that challenged us to start small with sitting in silence (even a minute) and work our way up to longer periods. Listening is just as important as talking. I love what you wrote here.
    Thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week!

    1. I’m with you, Dawn! Silence is uncomfortable for me! I have started challenging myself in a similar way to how your pastor suggested and it’s been amazing to discover that I like it. After all, God tells us that He will fight for us – “we need only to be still.” 🙂

  3. Hi Alison its a challenge most of us struggle with. I have created a space in our home for “quiet time” I also journal and to slow down I colour with soft music before total silence. It seems to work for me. I guess we need to ask the Lord to lead us to what works for us…who knows us better! Thx 4 yr article. Stay blessed!

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