Last week I talked about personal growth during this month, which is arguably the most self-centered month of the year. I do not necessarily mean that in a negative light, but January is a time of year when people are trying to better themselves. They are shifting the focus from the selfless giving of December, to pay time and attention to their own needs, most often involving physical health. Today, I'd like to share with you a less conventional way of shifting the focus to your own growth.
What if, while we are shifting that focus onto ourselves, we shifted our prayer lives a bit? I don't know about you, but the majority of the time, I am more likely to pray for others, than for myself. Sometimes there's guilt involved in asking for something for ourselves, but then there are also many times in our lives when we are faced with difficult people or circumstances. If our first instinct is to pray about them at all, our most common prayer is that God would take those difficulties away from us, or that God would change those people who are making our lives more difficult. I would argue that during times when we should be focused on our own behavior and decisions, is often a time when we deflect onto others.
Here's what I mean by that; what if, instead of praying for God to change other people, or change the difficult circumstances, we prayed, sincerely, that God would change our own hearts toward them? In the world, we often tell people to 'be the change you wish to see.' This can be reflected in our prayer lives too. It doesn't have to be either or, of course. Continue to pray for those challenging people in your lives as well, but often, when we shift the focus a bit, we can see more clearly how they need prayer. It might not be at all about how they are effecting your life, but rather about their own personal struggles that are causing them pain and difficulty. While God changes your heart toward them, suddenly it's easier to understand and love them, than to only see how their behavior effects your life.
We cannot take responsibility for other people's actions, nor should we, but we can hold ourselves accountable for our own reactions. I would challenge us all to shift our prayer focus to our own behaviors, our own decisions, and how we react to difficulties.
Some practical ways to apply this might be:
God hears all prayers, but I believe such prayers like these, with a genuine heart, are answered more readily. They show that we are seeking not just a magical genie in the sky to take care of all our problems, but rather to actively be more like Christ ourselves, and to be used by Him. Prayer is an area in which I have always struggled, but one of my goals this year is to revitalize and refocus my prayer life.
Remember, like I said last week, we are maker empowered. He is within us, and we should seek Him for ourselves, and watch how He can transform each of us!
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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