Responding to the Narcissistic Prayer Life

Posted at Pastor Dave Online:

Proud people abuse prayer. Jesus teaches us that prayer is about communion with our heavenly Father. Prayer involves adoration, confession, intercession for others, expressions of gratitude, and more. The arrogant person knows nothing of these elements of prayer, rather prayer is all about them. Prayer is about getting from God, and using God, not communing with God. Correction of the narcissistic prayer life will mean speaking directly to three kinds of misuses.

The prideful person views God more as a divine butler than the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. God exists to make them happy, and they pray, then, with an attitude of entitlement. They don’t request so much as demand. They pray with expectation, not in faith, but rather in the assumption that they deserve special, preferential treatment from God. He will answer their prayers because of how important they are.

Such individuals need to be challenged to see their parallels to the individuals described in James 4. The Apostle warns:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

This will be hard for them to see at first. Their own arrogance blinds them to any possibility of sin, and they will have a long list of benefits God has bestowed on them – most of which center around their own self-importance. They key is to address their arrogance with God’s opposition. To emphasize what they do not see. Even their boasting about “answered” prayers is evidence of their sin. God “opposes” them because all their prayers are centered around their selfish demands and desires. They pray in order to “spend it on [their] passions.” Confrontation on this point will be difficult, but consistent exposure of their presumption will be key.