Why I Need More Than My Own Prayers

Aaron Niequist is a singer, songwriter, and worship pastor at Willow Creek Church. He is the curator for a project called "A New Liturgy" (anewliturgy.com), and was instrumental in starting "The Practice: Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace," which is a Sunday night gathering at Willow Creek that focuses on the liturgy, discipleship, and spiritual formation. 

 

 

Yesterday, my friend Steve and I met before work to pray the morning prayers from Shane Claiborne’s “Common Prayer” book. (If you haven’t seen this “Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals”, definitely check it out!). After we read through the readings, prayers, and scripture, we came to the point of the liturgy that simply invited us to “pray for others”. While bowing my head, it struck me how often my prayers are about myself. Really. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but in one terrifying moment I realized how self-consumed my prayers have become.

And so I paused, took a deep breath, confessed my selfishness to God, and thought about the other people in my life. What are they going through? What do they need from God? What do they need from me? How can I love them well? And slowly, Steve and I spent the next few minutes lifting up our church, friends, families, and anyone else God brought to mind. With each prayer, I could feel my heart opening up and re-tuning to God’s great Love for the world.

But this wouldn’t have happened in my usual quiet time.
Life feels really intense right now, and I think the stress and fear might have pulled me back into my self-focused pleas and requests.

Thank God that people like Shane Claiborne (and team) have created roadmaps to lead us where we might not be able to lead ourselves. And thank God for
a friend like Steve who is willing to walk with a self-focused turd like me on the journey.

Do you have a practice that guides you beyond yourself?
Do you have a community to walk with?

We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone. We can’t do it alone.