During group study the other night we were discussing how to pray effectively (We’re using The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler as a guide – I highly recommend it.) and the subject came up about praying for ourselves.
In the book, Hostetler quotes Bill Hybels:
“God is interested in your prayers because he is interested in you. Whatever matters to you is a priority for his attention. Nothing in the universe matters as much to him as to what is going on in your life this day.”
Now, that passage spoke to me because I all too often don’t pray for myself. Praying for others is easy, praying for myself – not so much. But what if God really is interested in what I need? No matter how infinitesimal?
Well, the group didn’t think so. It was presumptuous of course to say that God sets aside all things for MY stuff. It’s a little narcissistic. BUT it goes back to that fine balance the entire Bible touches on – Love thy neighbor, but also correct him gently. You are my child and there is nothing more important, but my will is the rule. It’s a balance. A tightrope walk.
Yes, God loves us and wants to talk with us and wants to hear the desires of our heart… but sometimes He has to say, “Oh child. That’s wonderful. But it isn’t what you need!”
Then my good friend Roberta pointed out that we can, indeed, talk to Him about anything. Why would we think otherwise? Our needs ARE important – when we’re not healthy, it’s okay to ask for healing; when we’re distressed, it’s okay to say, “Lord help” and when our day simply isn’t going according to plan we can ask, “Why?” But, like me, so many people tend to NOT do the asking for themselves. Roberta mentioned that it’s much like what we do in life – the needs of others supersede our own needs. Her words spoke to me too.
I’m very quick to pray for others. If I see a request online or hear of someone in need, I will stop what I’m doing and pray for that person and the situation. But when I’m suffering myself (as I have been with a sinus thing for WEEKS) I tend to just let it go. It’ll heal. God doesn’t need me to speak it out. I’ll survive. (Oh the martyrdom!) (Or the good Jewish mother like my friend Roberta likes to say, “The light bulb died. Oh that’s okay. I’ll sit in the dark.”)
And in life, I’ve let others supersede my desires and needs too. In fact, for the past year I did a LOT of things for a LOT of people (a lot who did not even offer a thank you) before my own things. My work in progress (both of them actually) came to a standstill because I simply didn’t have time to work on them. Why? The needs of others.
Now don’t get me wrong. Of course God wants us to also help others! But our needs are also important! BALANCE.
In this new year I’m trying to find balance. The desire of my heart is to finish one of my novels this year. But, like many resolutions, that is a vague one. So I’ve defined it further. Tuesdays and Thursdays of my weeks are devoted to writing. This doesn’t mean I shackle myself to my laptop and write even when nothing is there to write, but it does mean that writing comes FIRST. As I’m writing this it’s actually a Thursday. So there. I’m writing. But even more importantly when I’m done with this post, I’m going to ALSO work on my WIP. There will be no editing today. Tomorrow there will be editing. Not today.
And I’m going to go one step further. Something I also rarely do. I’m going to ask you to pray for me. Pray that I can maintain this schedule. Pray that I occasionally put my own needs first. Pray that God will lead me with discernment in my writing. Pray that I can find balance. Pray that I can write.
And also – what can I pray for you today?