Sometimes I feel guilty when my prayers focus on me. With all the problems in the world, all the sicknesses that are affecting my friends and family, all the hatred and wickedness that seems to constantly trump the good, and all the preaching I hear about kingdom praying and praying for others, I tend to make sure my prayers say very little about me…or if they do mention me, it’s in a soft apologetic voice. Surely it is OK to pray for me at least once in a while…isn’t it?
Obviously I have to pray for me when I repent. That is all about me, and that prayer is expected. Surrendering my heart and life and tongue to Him is also all about me, if I want to be filled with His Spirit. Committing my life to Him through holy living, dedication, and complete obedience must come from me because no one can pray that for me.
But what about the other me prayers that I sometimes feel compelled to pray? I need healing, so I ask for it according to His Word. However, others are worse off than me, so I should pray for them instead of me, right? My bank account could use some divine intervention, but hey, I’ve got a job and a bank account that at least is in the black, so who am I to ask for more? A vacation would be nice, but how can I ask for that when others would just like to have a job instead of the forced “vacation” they live every day?
I’m not talking about focusing on myself to the abandonment of praying for others. I’m not talking about selfish prayers that can’t see beyond me. I am, however, talking about prayers that take me into His presence for my sake, for my enrichment, for my spiritual and physical needs. Is this wrong? Of course not! God wants us to come to Him because it shows our need of Him, our dependence on Him, and our appreciation of His abilities to answer our me prayers.
I looked for examples of me prayers and found several in the Book of Psalms…most of which were prayed by David, a man after God’s own heart. We know the big prayer of Psalm 51 where David repented, and it’s a prayer each of us have prayed more than once. (I imagine David prayed it more than once.) David’s first recorded prayer was when he asked God if he should go fight the Philistines (I Samuel 23). My me prayer: God, should I buy this dress, go on this trip, take this route home? Excellent me prayers!
In Psalm 3 David cried out to God about the enemies—including his own son Absalom—who were surrounding him and ruining his life. My me prayer: God, they don’t understand me! They’re out to get me, saying lies about me, ruining my life. What am I supposed to do? A necessary me prayer that ends with recognition that God sees and knows all, and has everything under control. All I need to do is trust Him.
Psalm 31 reveals one of David’s me prayers: my trust, my troubles, my times. He names his troubles, but ends by declaring his trust in God. My me prayer: God, everything is falling apart. I don’t know what to do, who to trust, or where to turn. And yet, here I am coming to You because You are my shelter, my rock, my salvation, the One in whom I trust.
Me prayers are as necessary as prayers for others. I must keep myself in communion and right standing with Him, and to do that means I must pray me prayers. I must get me out in the open. I must get me taken care of. I must make sure I am where I need to be with Him. Then, like Job in Job 42:10, the Lord will turn my captivity/problems/questions when I pray for my friends, because it’s not always all about me. Just sometimes…and that’s OK.
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