This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
~ Philippians 4:6
The Comparison Trap: Week One, Day Six… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:
I just love this verse and its instructions on bringing our prayers and praises to the Lord. I can’t help, though, when I read it, to know that I fall short in accomplishing it.
“Do not be anxious about anything…”
Ok, then… I’m not doing that.
“…but in every situation…”
Ok… I’m not doing that, either.
“…by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving…”
My journey with the Lord has helped me to feel better about that next part, as I certainly do a lot of asking, but I also do a lot of praising…now! (Please know, though… It hasn’t always been this way. I’ve had to consciously choose to offer up those praises, and it’s been a process of repetitious reminders to get to this place in doing so.)
A cherished friend of mine has always been good at adding the “thanksgiving” to her prayers. When our girls were little, we’d gather with a few other ladies for some mother-daughter time, and her continual reminders for us to offer up praises helped to shape my prayer life in a significant way.
There was an early time in our relationship with one another where I felt like I was falling comparatively short in the thanksgiving and praise part of my prayer life. I envied how it seemed to be so natural to her. I felt so far behind that I consciously tried to make up for it by practicing my prayers at home and in private just to see how much thanksgiving I could plug in to them.
I took what should have been something I celebrated in her, and I made it a competition in my heart. I practiced, and I brought Him my prayers and thanksgivings, but in doing so, it became more about matching her said-out-loud praises. I was doing it for the wrong reasons.
But somewhere along the way, after spending many years loving to listen to her prayers, I stopped comparing my ability to praise Him, and I started to celebrate her ability to do so. It opened up my heart, and it changed me from the inside-out. I finally got to a point of being able to praise Him, because I had a lot for which to praise Him! Instead of continuing in the race, I began dropping to my knees for the right reasons.
Moving away from the trap of comparison and moving more toward genuine love and conversation with God brought new life to my friendship with her and new life to my desire to connect with my Lord. Looking back, I know He was using that season to prepare me for the dark season to come, when being able to find the blessings would be oh-so important to my spiritual survival. I’m glad that along the way, I stopped comparing my prayers to hers and instead learned to celebrate her and see how He was using her to lead me.
The comparison trap can cause us to feel like we need to catch up, and when we’re willing to examine our hearts through His lens, we can see more clearly where it is He is trying to lead us.