Back when I was in “God’s church,” we were told that in order to pray the way God would hear you, you had to get down on your knees for one hour, following the outline of Matthew 6:9-13. We were to have our own personal prayer notebook that we opened every morning, with everything written down, so we wouldn’t forget anything.
First, we were to confess our sins because, after all, God wouldn’t hear one word we uttered unless we did this first. Then we were to tell God what we were thankful for. We could never be thankful enough for the “truth” they told us. Being called into His “true Church” was at the top of the list.
Next, we were to pray for “God’s Work,” the Apostle or that Prophet, and then for each of the evangelists, ending with our local pastor, the elders, etc. (This came under the heading of “Thy Kingdom come.”) Then we started praying for everybody else’s needs (mostly those in the “true church”). Lastly, we could squeeze in some requests for ourselves–if we weren’t too tired by that time, or if it wasn’t too “selfish.”
I even remember reading that if we started to pray in bed before we went to sleep, we were to immediately “get out of bed and get down on the floor, because God does not hear sleepy-time prayers!” That stuck with me for a long time. No wonder when we leave we can find it hard to pray–especially on our knees on a daily basis. We can even find it hard to pray at all!
By T. H.
Exit & Support Network™
When exiting an abusive group, you may suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder and, even if you know Jesus is your Savior, you feel you cannot pray anymore. But just saying something brief like, “Please help me through this,” or “Please send me some encouragement” is adequate. Later, as you heal more, try talking talk to Him like you would talk to a close friend. You don’t have to do anything ritualistic, such as getting down on your knees, closing your eyes, praying according to the clock, or praying according to a formula. Go off somewhere quiet where you can be alone. No matter how faltering your words may be, He’s always there to listen and not condemn. In time you can ask Him to show you what He’s like (His love, His mercy, His faithfulness) and tell Him how hard it is at this point to trust Him and that you really have doubts, but wish you didn’t. He will understand and accept that, and He will hear you. While it may take a long time to feel His love, and to know what He’s really like, due to how you were taught a false, angry God in the group, He will always be with you and He will help and strengthen you. All you need do is ask.
If you can’t pray because you felt God betrayed you:
Some have felt “betrayed” by God because they prayed to know “truth” and then ended up in one of these abusive groups. God allows us to make our own decisions, and sometimes those are wrong decisions, but this does not mean He led us into a false group that teaches lies. God did not betray you. It was the leader of the group who betrayed you. This leader happened to be there at the right time in your life and as a result you came to believe his words were the answer.
There are many deceptive “churches” and controlling groups in society today and anyone can be deceived into them if they don’t have discernment or don’t take the time to research into them ahead of time. These abusive groups are extremely deceptive and well trained in knowing how to recruit others. They are experts at using mind control methods, having studied it.
The problem with praying for the “truth” is that we can often go down a wrong path that ends up taking us where we didn’t want to go. Jesus is the One that is the Truth and it is far better to pray to know more about Him and to read the words in the Bible about Him.
Spiritually abusive groups only care about using people for the goal of money and power and end up causing much damage. Those who leave or are thrown out feel bruised and battered, taking a long time to heal. It may be extremely difficult for you to pray to a God that you feel has “betrayed” you, but in spite of our wrong decisions, the true Lord Jesus will never leave you or forsake us and will guide you into better ways. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3)