Are you praying or seeking prayer help for issues that arise out of your own mistakes and actions? Are you praying for the healing of self-inflicted wounds? ♦
The woman selected her grade school child’s teacher based on hearsay research. Now she observes ineffective teaching, regrets the choice, and asks her friends to “please pray” that she can get her child transferred to another class.
The young graduate accepts the job that looks good, sounds good, and pays well for a starting opportunity. He soon realizes he hates the work and the environment. He asks his small Bible study group to “please pray” that it can work out or that he can obtain another job opportunity.
The manager hires an employee against her own intuition and soon has to work late to cover the new employee’s mistakes and errors. She asks her husband to “please pray” that God will help her figure a way out of the situation.
A student has to stay up late 3 nights in a row to prepare for the final exams coming up because he did not read the text chapters throughout the semester and skipped many classes. He asks his best friend, a Christian, to “please pray” that he can get through this difficult week.
The young woman keeps dating the man who is nice enough but actually bringing her down in faith as he is not a believer. She asks her Christian woman’s group to “please pray” that he become a Christian.
Does this sound familiar?
Of course we all are guilty of these types of recovery or rescue prayers that really spring from our own actions, our own self-inflicted wounding. Some of us do it more than others. If you think about it, some people seem to always be in this mode, a life made up of scrambling prayers for self-inflicted damage.
What’s going on here? How does one avoid this frustrating cycle?
Jonah is an example of one who got himself in a bad situation purely as a result of his refusal to obey God’s orders to go preach to Nineveh. But we are not all necessarily getting direct orders from God on missions like Jonah the prophet. King David is one who is laid low as a consequence of his own dire sins. He prays mightily from a broken state but his child born of Bathsheba still dies. He draws ever so close to God as a painful lesson is learned.
You may not identify fully with either of these, however, all of us as humans are given clear instructions as to how to engage life and the power of prayer:
- God responds to our prayers. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. (James 5:16)
- God reveals himself to us through prayer. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. (Psalm 143:10)
- God imparts understanding through prayer. If you need wisdom — if you want to know what God wants you to do — ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. (James 1:5)
- God gives us his power to resist temptation. Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak. (Matthew 26:41)
- God does the impossible through prayer. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:22)
- God invites us to bring our burdens to Him. Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
- God commands us to pray. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. (Jeremiah 29:12,13)
Control, Disbelief, and Distant Relationship
In light of this, why do we do what we do? Why do we act, then seek prayer help to get us out of the mess we got into? I would maintain that there are 3 reasons:
- Control – we want to control our own destiny and direct our path per our own image and desires.
- Disbelief – we may doubt God or erroneously think that God does not get involved in little decisions: “Why would God care about this little issue or decision?”
- Distant Relationship – our relationship with God is light and superficial, even distant. We don’t take things to him because we don’t even think of God at times of decision-making, only in times of trouble.
Mending Our Ways
The good news is that God loves us, forgives us, and is infinitely patient with us. We can turn our hearts back to him and away from our selfish ways. Here are 3 key steps toward a rejuvenation program:
- Assess My Prayer Life – Am I reactive or proactive in my prayers to God? Am I coming to God consistently regretful or consistently grateful? Am I praying or asking others to pray for me? It’s not a problem to have others praying for me, but it is if it’s a crutch and I’m not really praying through all things in advance myself.
- Assess My Life – Am I in constant disarray? Am I lacking peace and joy? Am I always stepping in or picking up broken glass around me? Life is hard and not free from anxiety, stress, pain, and brokenness, but with God there can be peace in the midst of our problems.
- Redirect My Prayer Life – Whether it’s my children, work, co-workers, schoolwork, friends, relationships, spouse, parenting practices, or anything else that confronts me, all things are fair game for God. In fact, it is all about God. I would do well to take all things to Him first before any decisions are made. No matter how small. And I’d keep at it. If I truly take Him at His Word, it is the only way He really wants it. Anything less is actually missing the point.
Am I causing my own problems?
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6