It had been a hurricane week. Personal struggles had stormed my heart and left a trail of emotional debris. Even sleep didn't relieve the fatigue. Was it the week's events, or just my body's edging into midlife that had made me so weary?
Grateful for the weekend, I knelt in the living room Saturday morning for prayer time, which always included a long list of requests for others, but my mouth couldn't form any words. Tears bubbled to the surface, and before long my only conversation with God became a cascade of sobs over my frustrations.
I didn't pray for anyone else that morning, but just laid my raw emotions before God. After some time, I dried my eyes and rose to start the day. A strange peace blanketed my heart—a signal not that my problems had been solved, but that God had found delight in connecting with me only for once.
Throughout the next week that peace held me steady, and I wondered if my unique prayer time had anything to do with it. I decided to find out the next Saturday morning and purposely took that one day to pray for none but myself—using words this time. I unraveled before the Almighty my work schedules, projects, decisions, ministries, conflicts in relationships—whatever had knotted my life during the previous week. Over the next few months, Saturday mornings became a therapeutic "me time" with God, a time to dig deeply into my life. Still today, those weekly prayers teach me that a healthy relationship with God includes regularly stripping my prayer list down to one item: me.
If you're a person who prays only for yourself, you don't need this article. But if you pray only for others and rarely for yourself, you have a scriptural mandate to adjust that practice.
Devoting an entire prayer time to the self doesn't seem biblical at first. Scripture says to pray for others, such as our enemies, those in authority, and the sick (Matthew 5:44; 2 Timothy 2:1-2; James 5:14). This I continue to do. But Scripture also makes room for the self-alone prayer. When I read some of the psalms, I feel as though I'm listening in on the psalmists' "me time." I see that there came a time when these men pushed other concerns aside and honed in on the singular subject of self:
"O LORD, I have come to you for protection; don't let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe" (Psalm 31:1-2).