What Prayer ISN’T – About You

I hate selfies. I am vehemently against having photos taken of me, so taking a selfie, for me, is absolutely out of the question. Selfies are fun and if you enjoy taking them, more power to you, but if you’re known for taking selfies, if you take them multiple times a day, and if your social media feed is full of them, I would like to ask you to think about why you do that. I’m not saying that selfies are bad and we all should never do them – no way! But, if the underlying motivation for the selfie is unhealthy, it’s probably a good idea to address the root issues.

How much of your time each day is spent thinking about you?

Now, on the surface, it might not seem like very much, but when you dive down deeper, that number can grow rapidly.

How often do you think about what you want to eat or drink?
How often do you think about your comfort?
How often do you focus on your entertainment or pleasure?
How often does your mind drift to what you’d rather be doing?
Here comes the kicker – how much of your prayer time is spent praying about you?

Ouch.

A few years ago I was unemployed for a few months. Being jobless just about wrecked me, but now, looking back on that time, I am thankful for it because I learned a lot about myself, God, and what the Church is supposed to look like. But at the time I was miserable and despondent and at the end of my rope. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me and though I applied for job after job I just wasn’t being hired. So I stayed cooped up in my apartment almost every day writing or reading or painting or watching tv or just contemplating what a better life would be. My poor roommate was probably so sick of me during that time!

My prayer times quickly devolved into extended moments of self-pity. I would pray about how crappy my situation was (it really wasn’t that bad, I was just being a drama queen) and beg God to fix it or give me a divine appointment or give me favor somewhere. I was so focused on my joblessness that it became my identity for that season. Until I got some good advice from a friend.

“Pray about anything other than yourself and your situation.”

That gave me pause. I wanted to pray about myself. I wanted to make everything about me. But that advice reminded me that life isn’t about me so why would my prayers be all about me? So, bit by bit, I began to pray for other things, particularly, this nation and influential cities. There were 6 cities I felt a burden to pray for though I had been to none of them, so I researched each city, their demographic information, their poverty levels, the happiness of their residents, crime rates, etc. and began to pray big and specific prayers over each city. I prayed against poverty and depression. I prayed for wisdom for cultural, political, and church leaders. I prayed for protection over cities that were in the throes of violence. And, as I focused on other,s I started feel more like myself.

I don’t believe that I started to be me again because I expected prayer to change me. I believe my mindset was shifted because I was positioning myself properly. I was no longer closed off and focused inward, I was donning the appropriate perspective.

If the majority of your prayers are about you, I would encourage you to widen your perspective and begin praying for others {tweet this}. You can pray for the entire world or for your next door neighbor or anyone in between, but lift your eyes off of your situation. It’s amazing how shifting our prayers can make a huge impact in not only our lives, but the lives of those around us.


 

If you don’t have a prayer journal, you can download one at sarahjcallen.com/prayer

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