Thursday, August 24, 2006
Praying for Yourself
I heard a sermon last Sunday that has helped me this week in doing something I'm not very good at: praying for myself. I am seeing that most times my prayers for myself are plentiful but mostly shallow. I would like to share what I learned and maybe you will benefit in some way(s).
When you pray for yourself you should first ask for God's mercy. Mercy was defined by Pastor J. as " compassionate treatment for others especially those under one's power." (Ephesians 2:4 "...God, who is rich in mercy.") Job is one example the congregation was given as someone in the Bible who pleaded for God's mercy. Mercy is a word that I use very very often...I'll say "Mercy" in place of "whoa" if I hear something shocking. I 'll say "Lord have mercy" if I hear something I am shocked by or don't agree with. I realize that I might have been using the Lord's mercy in vain...so I am going to probably going to try to stop saying that...not because it is "bad" to say things in vain but because MERCY is more precious to me now. When I stop and ask for mercy on me, from God, it is very humbling.
The second thing we were encouraged to ask for is God's HELP. I don't really know how to expand on this except to say that it is an individual's nature and intuition that whispers and sometimes screams HELP in times of need. I usually don't have trouble or confusion in asking for help however I sometimes will miss the target of what I am able to do and what God has already done, is doing, will do, etc.
The third thing is to pray for God's strength. Psalm 46:1 says "God IS our refuge and strength." If God IS our strength then it makes sense that we must ask for strength from Him. I remember going through a REALLY hard time at work last year and doubting that God gave me strength during the storm because I could not stop crying...I cried on the way to work, in the bathroom, on the way to talk to my boss, and in my boss' face. I know now that it was my DOUBT and worry that shook my emotions and distracted me from the strength God gives. I got through the storm and have gained strength to face work related pressures without feeling personally attacked and vulnerable.
The fourth thing is to pray for God's blessings. I once had the definition of blessing described to me as "a gift you cannot give yourself." Pastor J. said the be specific in what you ask for and to be willing to share your blessing: spiritual and material. I feel a new challenge when I ask for things like contentness, fullfillment, satisfaction, money(?) because with my asking comes the question...and when I get it, what will I do with it glorify God and contribute to His kingdom on Earth? I just read Malachi 3: 6-18 for the first time and the title of this section in my NIV is "Robbing God." Very powerful.
The fifth thing is pray for God's will and be willing to take action. Pastor J. encouraged us to let your faith and Jesus' will for your life become one. She ended the sermon by challenging each listener by saying "if you pray for mercy, be willing to show mercy. If you pray for blessings be willing to share. If you pray for God's will, be willing to abide."
P.S. Most of you have probably done this before but if you stare at the image above for 15 seconds and then shift your gaze to a blank wall...tell me what you see.