When You Don't Know What To Pray For Yourself

Has praying for yourself been a challenge to you and your spiritual life? To be honest, I had never really thought of this. Praying for me comes easy. Remembering to consistently pray for others can be challenging for me. 

But for some of us, we focus our prayers on others, don't we? Maybe it's because we're used to putting others first as moms and grandmas. Or maybe we never found a rhythm when it comes to what we should pray for. 

We were discussing Psalm 62 during our faith coaching bible study here at the One Foot Office a couple of weeks ago. More specifically, pouring out our hearts to God.  What do we readily talk to God about? What do we talk to him about when facing a struggle? What do we just not talk to God about? 

Taken from Psalm 62:8 which says: 

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
— Psalm 62:8

We walked through a coaching tool to examine what we currently talk to God about and what we truly want to talk about. 

After working on the tool individually, I give our gals a chance to discuss and share what they learned from our coaching. On this particular night, one brave soul had the courage to say, "I don't really pray for myself."

Little by little, half of our community admitted to not praying for themselves regularly. For some, it was out of habit. They pray for others. Or it felt selfish and self-absorbed to keep coming to God with their own needs. And doesn't God know our needs anyway? 

Despite being armed with a seminary degree, there are some things we just don't always have answers for. With help from others who do pray for themselves, I laid out my thoughts about prayer. 

To be honest, I don't have this one mastered. I probably err on the other end. I pray more for myself and have a lot to learn from my brave sisters who admitted a question we may have all had at one time or another.

How do we pray for ourselves? 

Some quick thoughts about prayer

That night, I drew on what I've learned over the 30+ years of being a Christian.  There are thoughts about what God wants from us in prayer and what we do with our hearts in the midst of all this. 

Prayer is about our relationships with God

I was always taught that prayer is just plain talking to God. And the reality is that God wants a relationship with you more than He wants the "right" prayer or a list of to-do's. And prayer is just one of the ways we develop our relationship with God. We talk to Him. About our lives. About life in general. About our friends we want to pray for. 

Not praying about ourselves is like meeting a friend for coffee and choosing to talk about your other friends - but not what is going on in each others lives. Your friendship won't grow until you start sharing the stuff of everyday life, your heart, and your challenges. 

Prayer changes our heart

Does God know our needs? According to the Bible, the answer is yes. He knows what we need. He will supply our needs according to his glorious riches. And sometimes, for me anyway, prayer becomes about changing my heart. Prayer has been a way I gain perspective - God's perspective - on the things I'm going through and the things my friends are going through. Prayer brings our struggles before a loving and gracious God so we can gain His perspective. 

Prayer helps us put God in charge

The reality is that God is in control. He knows what will happen.  He is bigger than our challenges. When you and I begin to pour our our heart to God, we acknowledge that we need Him to show up. We can't do it without Him. We need His power and His love to get us through. We allow Him to take control and intervene the way He sees fit. It easier to write than it is to do - but when we pray for ourselves - we put God in charge of us. 

Because of all this, I believe it's just as important to pray for ourselves as it is to pray for others. When God numbers every hair on your head - he wants to know your hurts, your struggles, your triumphs and even those places where you have no idea what you're doing at all.  Can I get an amen? 

But I had no idea what to tell our small group of women on what to actually pray. My quick advice was to pray about your day and your heart. 

That was until I attended church on Sunday. We were at the end of our series of moving out of the circles of life. How to get unstuck. Mr. Pastor (as I like to call him) was wrapping up. And in the middle of his message, he said these simple words. "If you don't know what to pray for yourself, you should pray this..."

WHAT????? It was as if God was listening to our faith coaching conversation and had an answer. As you can imagine, I was all ears. 

The prayer comes from Philippians 1:6

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6

The prayer is simple.

God, finish the work you've started in me...

Since that time, I've had a lot of "over my head" stuff. The direction of my business. How to take a turn and actually make enough to cover expenses and pay my rent. And doubts about whether I'm still on the right path. Am I doing what you asked of me, Lord? 

Not to mention the everyday challenges of living and loving others well.  When life is crazy, we need a prayer we can pray with confidence.  

Since that Sunday, I've found myself in the middle of panic. And unrest. And doubting my direction. 

And I've remembered to confidently pray. "Finish the work you've started in me." To be honest, we have no idea what that looks like, do we?  God will finish the work in His own way and in His own time. 

And yet, for those with One Foot Faith, there is comfort in these words. I don't have to have eloquent words to pray back to God. All I need to ask if that He would keep working on me. That He would finish what He's started. And that, in the end I would trust Him to not let go. 

Hey there! I'd love to hear from you.  Yes you! Do you have a tip on prayer or even praying for yourself? Comment here. I know our One Foot Community would love to learn from each other about prayer, growing in faith, and stepping out in faith one step at a time.