Think for yourself. Fend for yourself. Treat yourself. Pray for yourself?
How many times a day or a week do you pray for someone else? If you’re like me, almost on a daily basis, right? I get prayer requests from people near and far on a regular basis or I simply lift up my loved ones every day. If I asked you how many times a day or a week you pray for yourself, would your answer be the same? Mine certainly wouldn’t and this sad fact was revealed to me today in a powerful podcast I listened to.
If you know me at all, you know that I adore spiritual mamma and all-around inspirer Susie Davis. Today she and her husband, Al Davis, Jr., talked about praying for yourself on their podcast. It was eye opening.
Come to find out that praying for yourself is one of the most underdeveloped disciplines and that most people don’t pray for themselves, me included. It is often considered selfish and self-serving but in reality, it’s anything but. Even Jesus often prayed for Himself. Gethsemane is only one vivid example of this.
Think about it, as Susie and Al said, the person you live with the longest is yourself so shouldn’t you love and pray for yourself? If you don’t love yourself, pray for it. It really and truly pleases God when we love who He created. It’s not selfish; it’s smart and it’s basically giving God permission to guide you, lead you, forgive you, and disciple you.
Sadly, we often leave prayer – whether for ourselves or for someone else – for another time. A quiet time. A calm time. A happy time. Funny thing is, we sometimes avoid praying when we need it most. When we’re sad, hurting, sinful, anxious, or just feeling a general feeling of unworthiness. That’s when He wants us most. God does not want perfect. He asks us to bring Him our helplessness, weaknesses, imperfections, and sins. He understands that we make mistakes and is waiting with open arms for us to offer Him prayers for ourselves.
The person with the most potential impact with God in your life is, you guessed it, yourself, so pray big and pray a lot. Examine the holes and flaws in your life and pray to remove them, fix them, or change them. These could be character holes. Discipline holes. Moral holes. Don’t you want them removed? Then pray for that!
When you do pray for yourself, Al reminds us to check your motives at the door. Be humble and pray to make wise decisions. Also pray to be full of joy and God’s will and way as well as influence and wisdom. And don’t hide. Don’t hide what’s in your heart or your head but instead bring it all to Him and let His love wash over you.
Praying for yourself is also a way of what Susie calls “soul care.” Walk away from the madness and make quiet time for pray. Set your boundaries and say no to things that might distract you. Choose being present over being busy and look for things that matter most to you and your heart. Go rest and go pray. Feed yourself. Provide for yourself. Take care of yourself. Don’t skip yourself when you pray and remember to be active not passive in your prayers and on your prayer list. Be needy with yourself!
Give yourself permission to pray for yourself. Pray against pride. Pray for humility. Pray to be physically and mentally healthy. Pray for things you want to become and for help in things you don’t like about yourself. Pray to handle your responsibilities, to be more charitable, patient, accepting, honest, happy, and encouraging. Pray to avoid malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, greed, laziness, and slander. We are living in a world full of those who think they are righteous. Pray not to feel you are without sin or guilt or that you alone are morally upright. Remember that only God is truly righteous.
Pray big and pray often but remember even simple prayers can save your life. Whether you pray for something big for yourself or something on a smaller scale, when you do, give yourself permission to be you and talk to God about you. Ask Him “what do you want to teach or show me today?” Author Ronald Rolheiser describes prayer as “lifting mind and heart to God,” so do just that. Lift every thought and every feeling regardless of how irreverent, selfish, angry, unimportant, or frivolous they might seem. If you’re feeling joyful, pray praise. If you’re feeling anger, pray anger. He knows you’re angry and He will help you through it. What’s important, Rolheiser writes, is to pray what’s inside of us and not what we think God would like to see inside of us. Be honest. Be bold.
But, be ready to listen. Turning down the volume of life and all its distractions allows you to listen to God. God listens and He speaks to us through prayer. Prayer by its nature is requesting. It’s not demanding. It’s asking for understanding and clarity. It has the power to heal our fragmented minds and hearts. Our souls.
Prayer is often called “worship” and in worship, as the old word “worth-ship” implies, it’s worth it, He’s worth it, and I’m worth it. I’m worth praying for and asking for anything. Anything large enough to occupy your mind is large enough to pray for. Ask away and pray away!
Susie and Al say there are so many reasons you should pray for yourself. Pray for yourself because you love yourself…or because you don’t. Pray for yourself because how you are affects everyone around you. Learn to love to pray for yourself. Don’t feel guilty about it. Feel grateful. You deserve it. Can I get an amen?