The Seduction of Prayer: Prayer Without the Will By J Mark Copeland

The seduction of prayer results in prayer without the will. If prayer without the heart is prayer lacking humility, then prayer without the will is prayer lacking sincerity.


Anytime we pray prayers that we don’t really mean, we’ve engaged in prayer without the will.

The Orthodox Jews of Jesus’ day could easily fall into the trap of praying without the will. Not only did scribal tradition require that they pray at three set times daily, but they were also required to pray much from memory. One such prayer was the Shema, which pledged whole-hearted love and devotion to God, promised continuous meditation upon His law and rehearsed the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience to His commands.

This prayer was to be said twice daily – once in the morning before 9:00 a.m. and once in the evening before 9:00 p.m. Orthodox Jews also prayed the Shemoneh ‘esreh, or The Eighteen, a liturgy that originally consisted of eighteen short prayers appealing to God for mercy and favor. This liturgy of prayers was to be prayed three times per day – once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.6

You can just imagine that having to pray eighteen or more memorized prayers every day could easily become a hindrance to the vitality and sincerity of one’s prayer life.

One could become preoccupied with praying words that do not express his true sentiments. He understand what he is praying but doesn’t truly mean what he is praying. He is praying without the will.

Praying without the will is a subtle form of the seduction of prayer. Those who have disciplined themselves to set aside specific times for daily prayer and specific guidelines to follow in their prayers must especially guard against this snare. On those days when they are energetic and ready to pray, they will certainly find that their prayers are offered sincerely.

At other times when prayer requires more personal discipline, however, they may find that following the normal routine puts them in the position of praying words that do not express their true sentiments. At such times, it would be wise to be less rigid and more spontaneous in prayer. We must mean what we pray if our prayers are to be fruitful. We must avoid the trap of praying without the will.


-After this manner, Pray