I constantly forget how to pray.
I often ask God “Help me to do [X] for you.”
But what I really need to pray is “God, use me how you want to.”
Why my “Help me do [X]” prayer is wrong is because it implies (states) that I actually have some important role to play in bringing about God’s work. But really all I am is a vessel that must be docile to what He wants – from where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do.
It is hard to place myself as unimportant – I want to be amazing and I want to do great things (and perhaps I want you to simultaneously notice just how great I am but also not notice because then I’m not being humble?)- But the things I do are to be great things for God, not for me. If I am going to do all the good that God wants
me to do to use me for then I need to always remember my inferiority and nothingness and be obedient to God. Just let Him guide me and be open to where He is leading instead of thinking I need to do anything but follow.
And this is a freeing thing! If I think I must rely on myself to accomplish what God lays out before me then I could risk being overwhelmed – fearing my inabilities, fearing I could mess it up, just fearing “doing”. And perhaps that fear would lead me to inaction. But joyfully doing God’s work doesn’t depend on my abilities – it just depends on me saying “Yes” when called and then following. God will do His work thru me. I just need to subsume myself to God’s will and let Him take the lead.
For example… I was in mass last Sunday and a man I’ve never seen before sat in the row in front of me and one seat over. I prayed: “Help me to make him feel welcomed.” And then I worried what exactly I could do – When I shake his hand do I try to convey sincerity? When I shake his hand do I smile? How best should I shake his hand? (…basically I really was struggling with coming up with anything other than shaking his hand at the sign of peace to be able to express that I welcomed him there…) And that is when God shouted in His whisper that I was approaching it wrong. Ah. Yes. I see now God. “God, use me to show him that he is welcomed.”
Really, I have no idea if I did anything to make him feel welcomed – I shook his hand, I smiled, I sang too close to his ears with my It’s-7am-so-this-is-the-first-time-I-am-talking-today-and-now-I’m-trying-to-sing voice, and at the end of mass I almost handed him the paper he purposefully didn’t take with him by saying “Excuse me, You forgot this!” — but then I stopped myself because he clearly didn’t want it and I didn’t want to seem like I was unwelcoming because I forced him to take something he didn’t want. But was I really supposed to speak up and nudge him to take it? (Darn it that was probably it!)
It’s also that last bit there where I let my brain give me thoughts instead of just following ones in my heart that prevented God from using me as He wanted to. Help me God to stop doing this terrible habit I have of getting in your way!
Photo Phootnote: A tough one to figure out what it is you’re looking at, right? That was a window-hole in a construction site wall thru which you could see another building (or perhaps it was just a wall?) which had a ladder against a wall. The wall was either being built up or taken down – I’m not sure. All I do know though is that that ladder wasn’t really going to help you were you trying to use it to get anywhere. (Location: Indianapolis, IN)