How often do you pray for yourself? Do you struggle praying yourself?
This may seem like a silly question to some of you. Maybe you pray for yourself daily. But, today I’m asking this question because in recent years, I’ve been surprised by the amount of women who share that they often struggle to pray for themselves. Sometimes it’s a seasonal struggle or for others, it constantly feels selfish or even too vulnerable. Can you relate? If you can, I hope I can encourage you today.
Making sense of personal prayer
When I think about Scripture that points to the importance of praying for yourself, I think of Psalm 139. It is a beautiful psalm written by King David who is reflecting on how intimately the Lord loves and knows him. Throughout the psalm, David praises God, reflects, confesses, and asks for right-thinking and guidance. The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart, (Acts 13:22) so we should pay attention to the ways he communicated with God.
I’ll admit, when I studied this passage, I was a bit uncomfortable. First, I tend to try to be less “me-focused” as I pray. Aren’t Christians supposed to be Jesus and others-focused? Secondly, it went super deep. The words of Psalm 139 speak of God’s presence and knowledge of the most intimate parts about us. Reflecting on those words made me feel vulnerable, which comes with its comforts, as well as temptations to keep God at a distance.
Jesus says in Matthew 22:36-40 that the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole being. And, the second command is to love your neighbor as yourself. We are absolutely supposed to be God & others-focused, but to neglect all thoughts and prayers about ourselves would be unbiblical.
It can be helpful to think of prayer for self like a spectrum. On one end is complete neglect of self, on the other end is complete self-centeredness. We need to be somewhere in the middle. God wants us to come to him with our prayers, even the ones we think are too insignificant. He wants us to pray for our personal growth and sanctification – to be made more like Christ! Being in the Word of God daily will help us stay in the middle of that spectrum, not veering too far to the left or right. Are you reading the Bible daily? If you struggle praying for yourself and aren’t in the Word regularly, that could be a big contributor to your insecurities.
Praying for ourselves can also feel uncomfortably vulnerable. Do you tend to keep others at an arm’s length? Do you have walls up? Are there parts of your heart you don’t let anyone see? If that’s true in your relationships, consider how that might be true in your relationship with Christ. If you are a born again believer, the Spirit of God is dwelling in your heart! Psalm 139 says He knew everything about us before we were born and that we cannot escape Him. He already knows everything – He sees more of your sin than you do – but He still died on a cross to forgive and redeem you. He sacrificed it all in love, fully knowing you and your sins. It’s safe to be vulnerable with Him.
Start praying for yourself
If you struggle to pray for yourself, start with Psalm 139. Read the verses slowly, out loud to God. Reflect on how perfectly He understands you, how deeply He loves you, and that He is always present with you. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable and share those feelings with Jesus. Ask Him to show you what it looks like to pray for yourself in ways that glorify Him. Ask Him to help you grow in vulnerability and intimacy with Him. It may take time for this to feel comfortable, but don’t let the discomfort keep you from seeking Jesus through personal prayer. Keep coming back to Him and watch how He will impact your relationship with Him for the better.
It is not selfish to pray for yourself. God is not too busy, you are not too damaged, and your prayers are not insignificant. Because of Jesus, through the Spirit, we can have access to our Heavenly Father who is ready to meet with us. (Ephesians 2:18)