“How do I pray and care about myself as I do others?” I asked myself one day. Praying for myself by name was not something I did. I searched the scriptures for God’s word on this. I found three principles that I could use.
First, I need to accept the fact that God loves me and provided a sacrifice for me. Jesus’ death enables God to look at me sinless and blameless. He sees my soul as redeemed (See Ephesians 1:7, NIV).
Second, knowing that I am bought by His blood, I can then rightfully approach my Heavenly Father and say my name aloud to Him. I began to do that. It wasn’t that I had not been praying for myself. But I was not lifting myself up by name, in consideration of my uniqueness. This took patience and practice for me. Satan does not want me to concentrate on my spiritual needs and relationship to God. Saying my name aloud as I prayed reminded me that God knows my name.
Finally, we are instructed to bring ourselves before the Lord (Jeremiah 29:12). God wishes to communicate with us, to tell us of His love and to bless us. The Lord’s Prayer illustrates the importance of this communication. In praying, “Give us today our
daily bread,” we are praying for ourselves (Matthew 6:11). We are also aligning our will with His.
I have found that calling myself by name helps me to concentrate on my worth before Him. He has said that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). I know that I am loved by Him and considered a unique creation. I am His child, and we know that children do not hesitate to ask for what they need. To lift up my name reminds me of this worth. With this great truth, I see myself as His masterpiece of love and yield myself to His will for my life.
I looked at my dad’s 93-year-old body in the hospital bed, weakened suddenly by the stress of broken hip surgery. He was understandably tired, frail, and confused. His normally clear mind searched my face through questioning eyes, looking for answers to what his life would be like in the days to come. I imagined the next weeks and months—rounds of doctors and nurses visits, technician tests, weeks of rehabilitation, and the struggle for restoration. How could I convey to the caregivers and professionals what my father had been like just a day before the fall—vibrant for his age, committed to sharing his faith in Christ wherever he could, mentoring those younger, and visiting nursing homes. He was active in church and an inspiration to others.
Knowing that medical professionals are extremely overworked with patient loads that leave little time, how could I be a voice and personalize my dad to them? I whispered a prayer, “How, Lord, can I make him more than a body to care for?” As God spoke to my heart, I put the following answers into practice.
An advocate is a helper, a voice, and one who intercedes for another. An advocate provides the healing touch of words for the patient and thoughtful help for the professional. The Bible reminds us in Philippians 2:3-4, “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others.” My dad could not always share his story, but because I was an advocate for him, his caregivers knew that this was a beloved and special man— one whom they would be honored to call their friend, if they had met him under different circumstances. Why not be a healing voice for someone you love?
I opened my mailbox and groaned. Sitting on top of the usual junk mail was a card that I had mailed to my friend Suzanne a few days earlier. “Return to Sender” was boldly stamped across its front. She had obviously moved, without sending me a new address. Now it, too, was part of the junk mail I received for the day.
I have often wanted to return junk mail. This day was no exception. Junk mail is an annoying nuisance.
Yet, God used it to remind me that I spend more time dealing with “junk mail” than with “junk thoughts,” such as envy, self-pity, and doubt. These are just as time and energy consuming. I often let discouraging thoughts linger much too long--allowing them to gain a stronghold in my mind.
I may not have control over external circumstances like mail. God reminded me, though, that I have been given a way to return unwanted thoughts by rejecting them. Second Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) encourages us to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,” and to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” By refusing to dwell on destructive thoughts, such as self-pity and fear, we are returning them to the sender--Satan. . . “a liar and father of lies” (John 8:14). Jesus paid the price for us to do that. He died that we who know Him as Savior may have power over these unwanted thoughts through His Holy Spirit.
As I looked at the junk mail on the table, my annoyance turned to thankfulness.
Through the Holy Spirit, I can refuse to accept destructive and defeating thoughts. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). When God is the sender, I don’t have to be disappointed in the mail.
©Barbara Baranowski, 2017