20) But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
21) Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.Jude 20-21 (KJV)
When is the last time you prayed for yourself? At first glance that might sound like a strange question.
However, I am not referring to prayers about things related to you that are external to you, such as asking for help in your career or relationships.
In this lesson we are going to look at what it means to pray for oneself, and why doing so is vital for a healthy Christian life.
We will also look at some specific things that Christians can ask of God to help them live more full, authentic and purposeful lives for His glory.
Why is it important to pray for yourself?
First, because the Christian life itself starts from within. (Rom. 10:10)
When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and place our faith in Him to save us from sin, He gives us a new, spiritually renewed heart. (Ezk. 36:26, Rom. 8:9)
The Holy Spirit resides in our new heart, and our desires to serve God emanate from our new heart. (John 14:16-17)
In our new heart we know the love of Christ. It is where we are filled with the fulness of God, it is where He dwells. (Eph. 3:17-19)
Our hearts are also where all the issues of life spring from. (Prov. 4:23)
If our hearts are far from God, hardened and bitter, we won’t be close to Him or able to serve Him as we ought to. In fact, we will only fall into mischief. (Prov. 28:14)
Moreover, even if we act right while our hearts are far from Him, we are nothing more than hypocrites. (Matt. 15:7-8)
On the other hand, if our hearts our steadfastly focused on Him and pure, we are able to glorify Him greatly.
This means that our usefulness as witnesses, the authenticity of our Christian character as a picture of Jesus, and the depth of our relationship with God are measured by our hearts’ cleanness and closeness to God. (Lk. 6:44-45)
Therefore, it is vital that we pray for our own hearts and self.
Secondly, self-prayer is important because we cannot go through this life as Christians without full reliance and total surrender to God, both of which begin with and through prayer.“Self-prayer then is not selfish. It is not self-exalting prayer, it is prayer steeped in self-awareness. It is saying “God I need You, and I want You.”
As God’s children we need our Father’s help daily for we can do nothing without Him. (Jn. 15:5)
While our spirit is willing, our flesh is weak. (Matt. 26:41) Yet, He is our source of renewal day by day, for we are in the Spirit and it is He Who gives us strength. (2 Cor. 4:16, Rom. 8:9, Eph. 3:16)
Put plainly, we need God’s help continually. That is what it means to be in a relationship with Him. It is what it means to know Him as Father, and friend. (Jn. 15:15)
Self-prayer then is not selfish. It is not self-exalting prayer, it is prayer steeped in self-awareness. It is saying “God I need You, and I want You.”
Self-prayer acknowledges that we must seek Him first, before all else, before anything else in life. (Matt. 6:33)
Jesus even places seeking Him above the essentials of life because He is first and foremost the most essential thing in life.
Self-prayer also rests in the security that only God can keep us from falling. (Jude 1:24)
Self-prayer understands that, even though I am saved, born again and believe in Jesus, I still wrestle with the flesh, temptation and sin daily. (1 Jn. 2:16)
When the Christian prays for himself, he does so knowing that he or she can only get through this life to the end through God’s power, grace, guidance, love and forgiveness alone.
The best part of this, is that God wants to hear us pray to Him about ourselves.
In fact, He grants us strength according to the riches of His glory. (Eph. 3:16)
Moreover, He lavishes His love upon us, and works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. (1 Jn. 3:1, Phil 2:13)
He simply bids you come to enjoy all of those benefits of His love. (Matt. 11:28-30)
That bidding by Him, and our subsequent communication and communion with Him, stand as evidences of our relationship with Him.
Our God is a personal God. He truly delights in those who respect and honor Him. (Ps. 147:11)
He is personal, loving and wants us to bring our need for Him to his throne boldy. (Heb. 4:16) The best way to do that, is through prayer.
Therefore, the importance of self-prayer cannot be understated. Self-prayer both keeps us aware of our heart and enables us to draw on God as our only source of strength.
It is a central component to our relationship with God.
While we can ask God for anything, the Bible has some wonderful examples of things that that we can pray for in order to help us live more full, authentic and purposeful lives for His glory.
It is these to which we turn our attention to next.
4 Things to Pray for Regarding Yourself
1. “Lead me not into temptation, deliver me from evil.”
13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.Matthew 6:13 (KJV)
While God does not tempt us, He does allow temptations in our lives as a way to strengthen us.
Additionally, temptations undoubtedly arise in our lives because of the enticements of sin, and through Satan’s workings.
Therefore, this prayer, and its verse, refer to us praying to not succumb or yield to temptations.
This prayer shields us from giving the enemy a foothold in our lives. (Eph. 4:27)
Thankfully, God promises that we will never come into temptation that is beyond what we or He can handle, in fact He always provides a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13)“While He will deliver us in the end, we still need His deliverance each day.”
Nevertheless, we must ask Him to help us in the times when we are tempted, for He will provide help in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
We must use scripture, just as He did in the wilderness, to combat the wiles of the enemy.
You can also pray that you be delivered from evil. If we are Christians, we know that God has already overcome the ultimate evil, that is death.
We who are His children, though we will die physically at the end of our earthly lives, will see him right after in heaven and will live with Him eternally. (Lk. 23:43)
When we ask Him to deliver us from evil, it means that we ask Him to protect us from spiritual forces and enemies of God.
It acknowledges at once the promise that while He will deliver us in the end, we still need His deliverance each day.
2. “Search and know my heart, lead me in the way everlasting.”
23) Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV)
God fully knows us, but all the better that we ask Him to search and know us because that tells us and Him that we want to be known.
It also means that we are committed to obeying Him and remaining pure.
It means that we trust Him to lead us into His way that is everlasting and that we want to be led thereby.
Ask God to keep your heart pure and to lead you on His paths!
3. “Fill me with your spirit, and make me wise.”
13) If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?Luke 11:13 (KJV)
5) If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.James 1:5 (KJV)
By asking God to fill us with His spirit, we gain access to His power that enables us to serve Him in ways we could never imagine.
To be sure, believers have the Holy Spirit in them. However, He is an inexhaustible source of strength and wisdom and one that must not be quenched but followed after. (Gal. 5:16, 1 Thess. 5:19)
May we ask to be filled with His power, and to be given the ability to discern right from wrong.
4. “Hear me, and show me your glory.”
6) I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.Psalm 17:6 (KJV)
18) And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.Exodus 33:18 (KJV)
In both of these we already have answers. We know God hears us, He hears us when we cry out to Him for salvation.
He hears us at the start of our Christian life. His glory is also shown to us through His miraculous gift and act of salvation in our life.
Yet, is it not amazing that we can ask Him to hear us and for Him to show us His glory? This means that there is ever much more to know about Him.
These prayers underscore the importance of desiring to communicate with Him, and our want to follow Him.
In this lesson we looked at what it means to pray for yourself, and why doing so is vital for a healthy Christian life.
Also, we discovered that self-prayer is a central component to our relationship with God.
Lastly, we looked at four prayers that we can ask of God to help us live more full, authentic and purposeful lives for His glory.
Ultimately, the common theme in all prayers for oneself, is an acknowledgment of the Christian’s desire to know God more.
There is no better way to draw closer to God, than by communicating with Him. Soli Deo gloria!
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Tommaso di Folco Portinari (1428–1501); Maria Portinari (Maria Maddalena Baroncelli, born 1456), ca. 1470, Hans Memling (Netherlandish, Seligenstadt, active by 1465–died 1494 Bruges). Oil on wood. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913. 14.40.626–27.