Learning to Pray for Me

It’s difficult to know how to pray when it comes to our own lives.

I couldn’t help but pause at the above words when I noticed them penned in the middle of an article I was reading. It’s fairly easy for me to pray for others. I often have names and faces running through my mind throughout the day as I lift petitions to our heavenly Father.

Praying for others is much easier than praying for myself.

I can see from the outside how things are falling into place in the life of another, even when all seems to be falling apart. I can compassionately plead for a broken world or a struggling friend without feeling any bent toward selfishness. But when I add myself into the equation, somehow my prayer formula doesn’t seem to add up so easily.

I struggle with my thoughts, wondering if my desires seem selfish. I wrestle with doubts as to whether my prayers are too narrow-minded or too broad. Too much or too little. Too big or too small. Too, too, too…

While prayers for others can spill from my heart like rivers, loving myself through prayer suddenly becomes a complex battle, a power struggle to release a drop or two of heartfelt need. I’m found overflowing with a series of checks and balances where once it was simply an outpouring of faith and expectancy.

How I “should” pray suddenly competes against the honesty of my own heart.

It’s easy to ask for God’s best for someone else. It’s easy to anticipate Father’s mercy for a friend. But sometimes it’s challenging to ask for God to love away my own hurts, especially when they seem so small in comparison to others. It’s hard to ask Father for tenderness for myself when all I can see are my own failings, my blatant propensity toward weakness when strength is needed. When His strength is needed in me.

Why do I think God might withhold from me what I fully believe He will extend lavishly to others?

Why do I hesitate to ask Him for the same favor I pray He pours upon my loved ones?

Instead of checking and rechecking my motives, I simply want to run to Him. Just as I am — scrapes, bumps, bruises and all. Hastening to have Him save the day yet again, just as He did when a tender baby’s cry split the silence of a star-studded night filled with heavenly choir. Just as He did when a commanding voice spoke the words, “Peace, be still,” and a stormy tempest was calmed. Just as He did when the mercy of salvation swept upon mankind with a final, “It is finished.”

As I come beyond the veil ripped wide open, I long to do so with the assurance of Father’s love not just for the masses, but for this one, floundering heart of mine. To reach out and grasp His love with both desperation and tenacity, convinced it is mine for today and for forever simply because I am His.

Even when I feel far from deserving of the grace He so freely gives.

Even when I have more questions than answers regarding my own heart’s wanderings.

Even when I am prone to pull back instead of rush forward into arms outstretched and waiting, arms strong enough to hold me close and love away every ache of soul weariness within me.

Today I want to approach Father as His beloved, not because of anything I am or am not. But because I am His.

And I belong.

Here in the circle of His unending grace where mercy meets the worst of me and loves me best.

Here where I am honestly and wholly His own.

Here where redemption is complete, and I am completely loved.

Here where He reminds me that He is for me.
4962725-mdHere where Father kisses away the hurts…

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The Help of My Countenance

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

These words found in Psalm 42:5 are a stirring reminder that positioning myself in the light of my Father’s countenance breeds hope and increases life, regardless of the circumstances in which I may find myself at any given moment. It’s imperative that I remind myself of my position as the beloved of Christ, especially when my adversary is constantly maneuvering to steal my memory and rob me blind. Satan consistently attempts to disrupt my life and disquiet my heart with any number of anxieties and doubts. And all too often, I play directly into his hand – knowing full well that he is dealing with the deck stacked against me.

Psalm 42 is my call for a re-deal.

No matter what cards you’re being dealt at the moment, there is help found in the face of Jesus Christ. Rescue and rest are our portion when we are living close to God. The way we view ourselves, others, and even our circumstances is seen with greater clarity when we remember that God is in our midst. And He is not neutral about anything concerning you or me. In fact, He always picks sides.

He sides with His beloved.

We would do well to join our voices with that of the psalmist who encouraged himself to remember and call forth the reason for hope in his life: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. Regardless of the disparaging circumstances, despite the fact that the writer was feasting upon his own tears, he drew upon what he remembered to be true:
God was still present. Still prepared to help him.

Interestingly, if we continue reading to the end of Psalm 42, we find it finishes the same as in verse 5… well, almost. It is identical up until the final statement of …the help of my countenance and my God (v.11). What caused those last, few words to change? Could it be that faith surfaced in the life of the psalmist as he realized the truth of his own statement?

“The help of His countenance” became “the help of my countenance and my God.” Apparently the psalmist asked for a re-deal, then positioned himself to hear and receive the truth – and it changed his point of view. No longer was he simply lamenting life, instead, he internalized the Truth. He believed and applied the help that God offers, and in this transfer of love and acceptance, he experienced grace. A grace that transformed his heart in the midst of his circumstances.

All too often, I want God to change my circumstances without changing my heart. But that’s generally not the way He works. Because our hearts are of primary importance. He can take us through any circumstances as long as our hearts belong to Him. He can handle our frustrations, our doubts, and even our subjective feelings. Read through the Psalms, and you will find they are filled with raw emotion. There’s no need to sugarcoat our rampant emotions tumbling over themselves like waters crashing upon river rocks. But we must leave room for the truth of our feelings to collide with God’s truths. To allow the healing to rush against the despair, thundering and flowing together until they settle into a peaceful calm. A calm that comes only when truth prevails and love is transferred. A peace that settles deep within when the light of His countenance causes our own faces to glow with the joy of being fully known… and chosen still.

No regrets.
No disgrace.
Shame overridden and erased by the mercy of a glorious cross.
By the light of a perfect, holy countenance shadowing our own.

Rise up, beloved, and choose to praise Him for the help of your countenance today.