Lately I have noticed many people are surprised at the concept of praying not only for others, but also for themselves. Although this is a very selfless sentiment and actually very admirable, it can also be a bit precarious for us. Don’t get me wrong—the Bible is huge on being unselfish, drawing us away from the very human mindset of “me first”, and teaching us to put others ahead of ourselves, serving others and covering others with prayers. Nonetheless, as individuals, we are prone to believe we can do it all ourselves, we have the strength to deal with everything, fix everything and figure it all out without needing anyone else.
As leaders, parents, mentors, managers, (insert your title here) we believe that we need to know all, hold everything up and manage everything/everyone around us without showing any sign of weakness, confusion or fear and that our duty is to only come to God when it’s about someone else and that is the only time he listens. We have been taught not to rely on anyone but ourselves if we want things to be done right. Or we have been taught to toughen up and not let on that we are not as strong as we should be or look.
However, I notice that throughout the Bible the great leaders do not only cry out to God for the sake of others, but also for their sake as well and some of them do it quite thoroughly by bemoaning their very existence and having what we would call a meltdown (not that we should be whiners). I notice also that God likes to have friends who he knows intimately and races to their rescue when they desperately cry out to him. Moses and Abraham come to mind. He saw them at their best and saw them at their worst and loved them and strengthened them through it all. He wasn’t surprised or shocked about their shortcomings or when they couldn’t handle everything that life was dishing out at the time. Through the Bible He shows his spectacular strength with amazing rescues and awe inspiring deeds in the middle of pretty serious situations and yet (NIV) Luke 12:6 says, “Are not sparrows sold for 2 pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” This shows me that He is just as much interested in our BIG things as he is in our mundane and little things. He wants to know when we are strong, but he also wants to be there when we are weak, mad, happy, sad, unsure or just so-so.
Sometimes selfless obedience to him is admitting we need him urgently and admitting that it is by His strength and not ours that we wake up, move forward, thrive, and survive. Sometimes by praying about what is affecting us, the prayer spills over and actually affects those around you in a positive way. A personal prayer is being able to allow God’s big shoulders to take the load and to admit that our strength is so limited next to the enormity of his love and who he is. There is something freeing and intimate when we can admit, I can’t do this Lord…I need you here amid my mess. This is where we allow him to do his best work, where he can powerfully move, change our circumstances or just give us the strength to walk through the hardest battles whatever the outcome may be.