When We Try to Control God with Our Prayers

In our day to day life, we tend to feel better if we feel that we are in control. Times of stress or anxiety are typically associated with a time when things were uncertain, unstable, or when something unpredicted happens. So we try to control outcomes in our life as much as we can.

The problem comes when this desire to control sneaks into our spiritual life. When our prayer becomes a way of telling God what our expectations are instead of a conversation with our Creator, then our relationship with the Lord can suffer.

Recently on The Joe Sikorra Show, Joe discussed this desire to control God through our prayers, and how giving up control to God can actually improve all aspects of our life.

“The reality is that there are a lot of things in life that you just have no control over,” Joe said. “A lot of the annoyances, the tragedies, the weather, the traffic, grandma getting sick – you can’t control everything that happens to you.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that wanting a sense of control is bad. Feeling out of control can lead many to suffer from anxiety. So how do we do that? How do we actually deal with life if most of it is out of our control?

“Well, you can control your response,” Joe explained. “It may be human nature to want to control, but God might have other plans. So often, even in our faith life, even trying to be a good Catholic, a good Christian, you go, ‘OK God, this is what I need for you to do.’ And this isn’t something new. People try to control God with their prayers. We think, ‘I’ll just say this many prayers and you’ve got to do it, God.’ But Jesus says that you are not in control.”

“And what God is saying to you right now is, ‘If you want to come with Me, if you want to follow Me, you are not in the driver’s seat. You’re not in control. And God isn’t saying that so you’ll be upset and anxious. Sometimes God says, ‘Breathe. Follow Me. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way to find your true self.'”

But how does giving God control help us feel better? Joe explained that when you give up the need for control, God gives you something even better.

“Even though you’re not in control, God wants you to feel peace,” he said. “And in the Gospel that’s what He says to Peter and His disciples. He tells His disciples that He will not be leaving them alone. He gave us a gift, and the gift He gave us is peace.”

“There’s no doubt about it that sometimes you feel anxious because you don’t know how things are going to work out. But you can be sure that God will take care of everything you need. His generosity exceeds even yours, in the glory that pours from Jesus. ”

Listen to the full reflection below:

The Joe Sikorra Show airs weekdays from 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.


Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.