Every now and then, the Spirit makes me aware of how self-centered and selfish my prayers are, even when I’m praying with the best intentions. I’m sure we’ve all prayed things like, “Lead me,” “Guide me,” and “Direct me.” And I’m sure we’ve prayed those prayers truly wanting God’s direction so we could obey.
Yet, I’m discovering that my selfishness runs deep and is very subversive. A Psalm from the Morning Office in The Divine Hours brought this to light, “For the sake of your name, lead me and guide me” (Psalm 31:3). I’ve prayed “Lead me and guide me” and similar prayers most of my Christian life. But the phrase “For the sake of your name” seems so foreign.
I really do want God’s will. I want his kingdom to come and his will to be done. But that simple phrase, “For the sake of your name” exposed a subtle distortion within me — I ultimately equate God’s will and direction with personal blessing and fulfillment. Sure God gets his way, but that also means I’m happier, more satisfied and enjoying life. And that’s the distortion. Even while praying for God’s will and direction, it’s still primarily about me. Without really comprehending it, my praying for God to get his way is just a means to my own personal happiness.
Lord have mercy on me, a sinner!
Father, forgive my selfishness. Teach me to live and pray “For the sake of your name.”