I often hear from Christians who confess that they are feeling depressed, defeated, and weary. Many of them tell me that they do a lot of praying for others, but very little for themselves. Over the years, I've begun to see a distinct pattern here. For some reason, these people believe it's right and noble to pray for others, but not for themselves. They often have no trouble asking God to pour out His blessings upon someone else, but they falter when they consider praying the same things for their own lives. As a result, they often wrestle with feelings of doubt, insecurity, and weakness. If you are one of these people, my heart goes out to you. I understand your struggles because I have experienced them myself.
Let me assure you today that it is very scriptural for believers to pray for themselves. The Bible is filled with examples of God's people praying for themselves and receiving extraordinary blessings as a result. I'm thankful that Jabez's prayer, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, has gained so much attention in recent years. Through this simple but powerful prayer, Christians are gaining a new awareness of just how important it is for them to pray for themselves. Jabez pleads: "Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." (NIV) I especially like the Living Bible translation which says: "Oh, that You would wonderfully bless me!" If God's people would pray for themselves with this kind of passion, there's no telling what the Body of Christ could accomplish for His glory. We know that the Lord was pleased with Jabez's prayer, because the last line in the verse states, "And God granted his request." (Hallelujah!)
I thank the Lord that He gave us examples in the Bible of Jesus, Paul, David, and others praying for themselves. (See John 17:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:8; and Psalm 4:1.) David, in particular, gave us a wealth of prayers he prayed for himself, as recorded in the psalms. We know that he was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), and that he lived a life of unparalleled victory. David left us Spirit-led prayers we could pray for ourselves so that we, too, could walk in victory and become all God created us to be. In Psalm 143:10 (NIV), he wrote: "Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground." I believe that one reason why David was so dear to the Lord-and so blessed-was that he constantly asked God for guidance, strength, joy, peace, prosperity, deliverance, and other blessings. The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that David didn't hesitate to pray for himself, so why should we?
The fact that many people feel weak when they neglect to pray for themselves is no coincidence. Praying for ourselves invites the blessings of God into our lives, and makes us strong in spirit. It also makes us less vulnerable to satanic attack. The last thing Satan wants us to do is to pray for God to strengthen us, to help us do His will, and to equip us for victory. That's one reason why he'll often try to attack us with feelings of guilt and condemnation when we pray for ourselves. Jesus told His disciples, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." (Luke 22:40 NIV) The same devil that came against the disciples during Jesus' day is the same devil that will come against us today. And praying for God's help is just as important now as it was back then.
Personally, I spend a lot of time each day praying for others. Sometimes I become so preoccupied with lifting others up to the Lord that I neglect to pray for myself. When this happens, it isn't long before I notice myself becoming weak and weary. That's when I remind myself that if I don't spend a certain amount of time praying for my own needs, I won't be much good to anyone else. Let me encourage you today to keep yourself in prayer. Keep asking the Lord to bless you abundantly, so that you can be a blessing to others, and give Him all the glory He deserves!
Prayer: Lord, I confess that there are times when I feel less than enthusiastic about praying for myself. Please change my heart, and help me to realize that it really is Your will for me. Teach me how to pray for my own needs-even when those needs include peace, joy, strength, and faith. Thank You that as I stay strong in spirit, You will use me in greater ways for Your glory!
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