How To Pray For Yourself
Do you pray? Do you ever pray for yourself?
I ask this, because until a few years ago, I have rarely ever prayed for myself. I know it sounds silly, but I almost felt like it was selfish to pray just for my own self. I would welcome other people to pray for me, but myself? I don’t know. It just seemed weird and I never did that.
Fast forward to about five years ago, the summer of 2014 or so, when I was in a small group meeting with other leaders before Bible study started back in the fall. My friend Denise, who was the teacher in our Bible study group, brought in her friend and prayer partner to encourage us all in our prayer lives. That dear lady spoke life and truth into us that day and in the ensuing years, I’ve never forgotten two points she made to us during that time together.
The first and most important point is that we should all be praying for ourselves, every single day, or maybe even multiple times every day. Read what Jesus is saying below.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Anne, the lady who was speaking life and truth into us that day, equated praying for oneself to the safety demonstration performed by flight attendants. If the plane is in trouble and oxygen masks drop down, they tell you to get some oxygen for yourself first, then go to someone who needs help and help them. If you don’t do that, if you do not take oxygen for yourself first, you will be of no help to anyone.
So it is with prayer. Many of us are students, teachers, employees, wives, moms, daughters, sisters, friends. And in case you haven’t noticed, we are living in a very dark and broken world. The world around us needs Jesus and it is our job as believers and His followers to share the gospel with everyone we come across. If we try to do that in our strength and power, we will fail. But if we pray and ask the Lord for help, He will help us!
Are you wondering what should you pray, if you’re praying for yourself? I wondered the same thing. When I pray, every time I begin with praising God for who He is. He is the Creator. He is the Redeemer. He is our helper. He is our friend. He is our guide. He is our provider. He is our healer. Every attribute we think of when we say His name, that is what we can praise Him for. I love to look over His word and pray it back to Him. I’ll give you an example, using Isaiah 9:6,
…and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
All these above are characteristics of God and this is how I praise Him. I might say to Him “Lord, I praise You, because You are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Thank You for being these things to me, Lord, and more.”
After the praise or adoration part of my prayer, I spend time confessing and repenting of any sin of which I haven’t asked Him for forgiveness yet. Next, I spend time giving thanks and then I pray for myself. I ask that the Lord would always keep me close to Him, never let me wander away. Also I ask that He would make the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart pleasing to Him (taken out of Psalm 19:14). I ask that He would help me lay aside any feelings of offensiveness or defensiveness when I’m praying in regards to my husband and sons. I ask that He would help me to always walk in submission to Him, because I love Him, I revere His holy name. I ask that He would help me to represent Him well in a lost culture around me. I ask for opportunities to share His good news.
I don’t just skim over this praying for myself, I really focus and surrender to Him anything that is on my heart. Meaning, if I’ve gotten upset with my husband over something, I ask the Lord to examine me and show me my own sin and if I need to ask for forgiveness first. I always ask that He would help me be a good wife to my husband, one who would make him eager to return home from work every single day.
After I pray for myself, I begin with other people I have on my list. I always start with the people under the same roof as me, then I move on to extended family, lost loved ones, friends, my pastor and staff at the church we attend weekly, missions and our governing officials. I don’t always have hours to spend with the Lord, so I don’t always pray this way, but I never neglect myself, and my family.
The last thing that stood out to me that day when Anne came and spoke to us was to consider finding a prayer partner. My friend Denise encouraged me in this as well. I had never really understood the importance of praying with someone like-minded. I now know what a beautiful thing this is and when I don’t have this in my life, I really miss it. Over the years since then, the Lord knit my heart together with my friend Abbey. We used to pray together faithfully once a week and she literally became one of my best friends. When you pray with a friend, you bare your heart and your soul to them and you become very close very quickly.
Regarding finding a prayer partner, I want to exhort you just a bit. First, find someone carefully. Pray about finding a prayer partner. The Lord will lead you to the right person. You need to use some discretion and discernment before you commit to doing this. It needs to be someone you can fully trust. When I pray with my friend, I don’t hold anything back. She hears the very deepest recesses of my heart and I need to know that she won’t run and tell anyone what I just said. This goes both ways. As you seek someone you can trust, be a trustworthy woman. Jesus addresses this in Luke 6:51:
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
These are two very simple pieces of advice that I often give to the younger women God has placed in my life. Pray! Pray often, pray for yourself and find someone to pray with regularly. It all seems so simple, but the enemy does not like it when believers meet together to pray and he will do anything in his power to stop it from happening. He will use sickness, distraction and busyness all he can to keep us away from praying. If you don’t believe me, ask someone who is older and more experienced than you. She will be quick to tell you.
I forgot one crucial piece of advice, speaking of “she”, and that is: if you’re a woman of God seeking a prayer partner, it needs to be another woman of God. It’s okay to pray with a man in a group setting like a small group of Bible fellowship class. But especially if you are a woman, especially a married woman, avoid having a male prayer partner! I cannot stress this point enough. Men should always pray with men, and women should always pray with women.
I pray and sincerely hope that what I shared with you sparks some inspiration for you in your prayer life. We all can occasionally get into a rut. When that happens, switch things up a bit, change your routine and how or where you pray. Sometimes I use a notebook. Most times I don’t, but when I’m hitting a wall, I pull that prayer notebook out again. Just don’t give up.
A Closing Prayer
Lord, thank You for teaching us the importance of prayer through Your word. We know that, as we read in the Gospels, even Jesus Himself prayed to His heavenly Father while He was in the garden. If He did, how much more should we? Please Lord, don’t let us be distracted in this. Help us to pray faithfully and diligently over every area in our lives. Don’t let us grow weary and help us to never give up when praying for our non-believer loved ones. Thank You, Lord, for the simple, beautiful gift of prayer. Thank You that we no longer need a priest to access the living God. Thank You for dying for us on that cross, so that we could spend eternity with You and thank You that when You sat down at the right hand of the throne of God - You became our High Priest. We love You and praise Your Holy Name. Amen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Goodwin is a wife, and mom to four (almost) grown sons. The Lord has called her to serving in several different ministries within her church home, some of which are bible study and leading younger women, and helping in the leading of worship on Sundays. During the week you can find her writing on her blog, Overflowing With Thanksgiving and encouraging others through her favorite social media outlet: Instagram. Follow along with her and be encouraged @jenlloydgoodwin.