How Do We Banish Meritocracy from Our Prayer Life?

How Do We Banish Meritocracy from Our Prayer Life?

Are you sure you read that right?

M.E.R.I.T.O.C.R.A.C.Y. Not mediocrity. So what is meritocracy anyway?

It’s the merit-badge-mindset of the West – both Christian and non – that we get what we deserve, what we are worthy of, or work hard for. Salvation is free but position with God—especially when it comes to getting prayers answered—is earned.

Isn’t that you, even the tiniest little bit? Haven’t you ever thought that God liked you better today because you spent an hour in the Word?

We can’t help it. We live with a worldview that worships success. Never mind that Jesus said the way to gain is to lose, or the way to get is to give. Those are great principles but when it comes down to the practical, we rather easily forget we’re part of another realm.

Truth is, radical grace is like living in another kingdom. Not based on our success or achievements. Grace isn’t doled out only to the most spiritual of us and denied to others. By definition alone, it’s undeserved.

I know that like me, you get that. In a way. But I want to give you a few bites to chew over, meditate on, talk to others about.

What if prayer is not primarily about saying words or thinking thoughts? What if it’s really a stance. By that I mean a perspective, a way of thinking, more than just something we do. 

What if prayer is more about being than doing?

All of Jesus’ parables turned reality upside down. He did this on purpose to subvert our normal way of seeing. At the end of the story in John 9 where he heals the man blind from birth, Jesus makes a radical statement to those who think they already know everything. Can see perfectly well.

“I have come into this world to judge: Blind people will be given sight, and those who can see will become blind.” v. 39.

Prayer is a way of living in the Presence of God. Living in awareness and enjoyment of the Presence.

In order to grasp the depth of this – the sheer possibility of it—we must be willing to release our merit-based, reward-oriented worldview and think upside down. Like Jesus did.

With those ideas in mind, what do you think these verses mean when it comes down to meritocracy and our prayer lives?

“…For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” Acts 17:28

“…pray without ceasing;” 1 Thess. 5:17

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3

If our existence is a position in Christ, as Colossians states, then wouldn’t prayer be that constant interchange taking place as we maintain awareness of his presence? Any description of praying that doesn’t include that falls short.

Prayer, therefore, isn’t only comprised of

  • morning devotions
  • petitions
  • supplications
  • bedtime prayers
  • prayer lists

It seems more likely it’s the sum total of my life. My ongoing, intimacy with Christ, where all is known and shared between us.  Where everything belongs.

My life and the way I live it is prayer.

And rather than me telling God what I see needs praying about, it comes from the position of “I don’t know anything.”

Our life in Christ is a mystery. The minute we forget that and start believing we can explain it all, or have answers for everything, is the moment we step away from the Light.

So think differently about prayer. Stop trying so hard to measure up or achieve some imagined spot as a “prayer warrior.” Every time you breathe you pray. He is here, right now, and He knows all.

Pneuma. Breath. Prayer. Spirit. Life. They’re all the same thing.



  1. This is great news!! I have always thought my prayer life didn’t quite measure up to the people who can pray long, flowing, sometimes loud powerful prayers. No merit badge for me! I am not afraid to pray out loud in a group, but I usually get more quiet and my voice sometimes quivers as I pray. My “prayer life” has always been more of an ongoing conversation that really never has a formal start or stop. That has not made me feel better than others, just different. I still have so much to learn and want to stay right in the middle of the Light. As always, thanks for sharing and being so honest.

  2. Yahoo! You did it again, hit the nail on the head. To live is Christ, indeed. I appreciate you putting pen to paper so to speak with a wonderful reminder. Brightened my day sis. Sending love.

  3. Interesting. This really puts a huge divide between our spirit life and our secular life. Hmmm?

  4. Cathee………..I love this!! Everything about it but …..especially this:

    “Prayer is a way of living in the Presence of God. Living in awareness and enjoyment of the Presence”.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Love you.

  5. Pray is an exchange. What I give to him in truth He frees me from with the truth.

  6. Cathee, I was reading Jesus Calling on March 19th and it said, “Let my light shine in you; don’t dim it with worries and fears. As I am trying real hard not to worry, he said “worry and fear leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living.” When I read that I thought, oh my, I am not letting my light shine and letting Him abide in me completely. Well, I have come to finally understand that every time I breathe I should be praying and he will take care of me. I don’t have to try real hard not to worry, just pray. Thank you for this blog. I would welcome any comments from anyone.

    • Mary – I love what you said here. It was an aha moment and thank you so much for sharing it with us. Maybe not worrying is not so much about trying as it is just staying in His presence. There’s not anxiety when you’re there.

  7. Listening to the regular rhythm of waves on Florida’s east coast. They seem to inhale and exhale in agreement with you. God is with us. He is for us. We can depend on Him to be constant. All powerful untamable beautiful. Breathe in breathe out. G’night, Cat.

  8. Wow. All of this post was awesome but one sentence really struck me because it summed up MY life for almost 50 years: “Stop trying so hard to measure up.” Please pray that I will embrace my acceptance in Christ because, indeed, I have been trying to be “good enough” most of my life…even though I know better. I know I have grace through Christ and Him alone, I am still trying to be “enough”…baggage from the past, pokes from the enemy. </3

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