Image from

How to Experience Breakthrough When Praying is a Struggle By Erica Barthalow on Jul 20, 2021 05:09 pm

Hi, my name is Erica, and for years I struggled with prayer.

Just picture me in a church basement amidst a circle of chairs making this confession. Except there is no such place to make this confession. In my experience, not many people are lining up to shout this from the rooftops.

If you’re new here, I would also like to say that I’m a church-raised, Bible-college-educated pastor’s wife and former missionary. So if you find prayer to be a struggle sometimes (or maybe all the time), I hope you just breathed a sigh of relief. You are amongst friends. There is no judgment here. I should have had all the tools and knowledge to be a powerful prayer warrior.

And yet…

I was stuck for years, inside my own head, spinning my wheels. Wanting to pray. Knowing I needed to pray. Making plans to pray and then…not praying. Maybe you can relate?

You really want to pray, but most of the time it’s just so darn hard!

There are a lot of reasons why this is, and believe me, I’ve probably encountered all of them! But I believe one of the biggest—maybe the biggest—one is:


You might be wondering why I would say this is the biggest one. Well, I’m glad you asked, and the reason is simple.

Because perfectionism is a thief. Of all the things it steals from us (and it steals a lot), one of the biggest is our prayers. It steals the words right out of our mouths by convincing us they’re not good enough, eloquent enough or there just aren’t enough of them to bother God with.

Perfectionism convinces us that only prayers prayed at a certain time of day (i.e. the morning) or in a certain place (kneeling beside our bed with our hands folded) are “real” prayers.

All others are useless and just shouldn’t even be prayed at all. Perfectionism is Satan’s craftiest tool. Because it keeps you focused on you, rather than keeping your focus on God.

I want to challenge you to do something right now that really helped me break down my issues with perfectionism. I’m hoping it will help you too. All of us have ideas we carry around in our heads about prayer. Maybe we collected them from our parents, grandparents or Sunday School teachers. Maybe they’re great. But maybe they’re not.

I want you to take out a piece of paper, and then take a minute to search your heart and mind and make a list of all the things you think make a “perfect” pray-er. What types of things does the perfect pray-er do or say? What do they not do or say? Be totally honest with yourself.

Now take a look at that list and consider if the things on it are Biblical or if they’re just customs and traditions that aren’t helpful and are actually keeping you from talking to God. Give yourself the time to sit with your list and examine what you need to let go of and what you can hold on to.

I’m praying and believing that as you do this exercise the Lord is going to set you free from the perfectionism you’ve carried about prayer and that you’ll experience more freedom in your next conversation with God!