Praying for Me

Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that praying for myself was selfish. Prayer time was better spent lifting up other people, not my own wants and desires. Lately, I’ve heard holy whisperings that seem to be correcting this untruth.

Then, this morning, I saw this.

prayer

This blackboard is in one of our Sunday school rooms that goes mostly unused in the summer.  During the school year, our Bible study ladies put prayer requests on the board each week so we can remember who needs extra prayers. I happened to walk in the room this morning and glanced at the board. There it was — a message from heaven.  I stared at the words for a good minute, sensing this was meant for me.

I’ve kept a prayer list for years.  Some days, I go slowly through the list, pausing at each name, each need, each request. Other days, I lift the piece of paper up high and say, “See this list, Lord? Good. Amen.”

On most days, by the time I get through the line-up of family, friends, the church, and the world, there’s little time left. I may tag on some petitions for guidance in a decision or help with a particular situation, but as a rule, I keep myself off my prayer list.

Today, I read the writing on the wall.

It’s time to put another name on the list: Me.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God.”  Psalm 51:10

Here’s My Heart

heart

It’s a dangerous prayer.

“Here’s my heart, Lord.  Speak what is true.”

That kind of prayer is an open invitation to the God who knows all, sees all, hears all.

Here’s my heart, Lord.

It’s opening the deepest part of me for His examination.

Speak what is true.

It’s listening to His diagnosis and the prognosis for my neurosis.

While it’s true that I am loved and I am redeemed and I am hidden with Christ in God,

it’s also true that I am controlling and I am selfish and I am anxious.

Thankfully, God speaks the Truth about Himself as well:

“I, the Lord, am strong.

I am sure.

I am good.

I am true.”

This week, David Crowder and I are singing this song:

Expired Prayers

The thing about prayer is — there is no expiration date.

So, sometimes I have to go back and undo foolish requests.

“Oh God, You know that thing I said I wanted?  I changed my mind.  I don’t want it anymore, so please don’t give it to me.”

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah in the holy place,

Gabriel’s words might have thrown the elderly priest off a bit.

“Your prayer has been heard.” (Luke 1:13)  

Ummm….which prayer is that, exactly?

Evidently, one that he had prayed a long time ago.

“Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son.”

Ahhhh….that prayer.

I suppose Zechariah and his wife had prayed for children during the early years of their marriage, probably into their 20’s and 30’s.  Perhaps the fervency picked up in their 40’s, but surely now that they were well along in years, those prayers were abandoned.

The thing about prayer is — God knows better than we do what’s good for us and when we’re ready for it.

Sometimes we need time to grow into our prayers.

Still, I wonder if any 30 year old prayers of mine might be answered today.