01 January 2008

The Most Difficult Prayer

Matthew 11 has always been a difficult passage for me. John the Baptist, a faithful preacher for the Lord, is in jail for his work for Christ. In his cell, he begins to wonder, perhaps even have a shade of doubt. He sends his disciples to ask Jesus, "You are Christ, right? I mean, this isn't for nothing?"

Stop. This isn't the difficult part. In fact, this part comforts me. Even John the Baptist had his doubts. Maybe we should call them semi-doubts. He's not renouncing Christ. He's not taking back his message. But he needs some reassurance.

Jesus answers his question. "Yes, John. You can trust me. You will be blessed because of me." Which is a serious thing because imagine facing God and being wrong about a thing like that.

But then here's the disturbing part. Jesus waits until John's disciples leave before bragging about him. Jesus tells the people around him, "You see this John? He's one of the greats! Heck, his mom should be downright proud. She raised the best around! He fulfills prophecy. Pretty cool, huh?"

Why did Jesus wait for John's disciples to leave before saying this? Who more than John needs a pick-me-up right about now?

Jesus answered the question about who Jesus is--the Christ. But no more. No pats on the back. At least, not right then. Hold fast, John, Jesus said, but then he reserved his greatest words for after the time when John would hear them.

WHY!?

You see, I'm an affirmation person. I need--no, I should say desire--those words of affirmation. "Good job" goes a long way in my world. It's much easier to serve when you hear that. I hate cleaning house, but if my husband notices the spic and span, it's worth it.

SO WHY COULDN'T CHRIST GIVE JOHN THIS ONE THING?

Which brings me to my hardest prayer.

Lord, make me insignificant.

Did I just pray that? Yikes!

Just the facts: the pride in my life, well it's big and dark and ugly. Sometimes I think it looks beautiful. I like to fool myself. Sometimes I think it's light, that it carries me like Rudolph carries Santa.

But that's not true. It's gnarly and cumbersome and heavy.

And it has to be dealt with.

So, Lord, make me insignificant.

I hate praying this prayer. It scares me. I always hoped I'd be significant. I grew up with Bach and Mozart and Beethoven, and I hoped I'd be one of them.

Sidebar: this past year, I turned thirty. It wasn't pretty. From the day I turned twenty-nine, I dreaded the next birthday. Something loomed about it: at that day, I would officially be insignificant. What could I point to in my life and say, "I did that!"?

Turns out, I'm not great. But we've covered this before. And then again.

Today is January first, and our heads turn to New Year's Resolutions (or Revolutions, as they say in the Blue Lagoon). This isn't exactly a resolution. How does one resolve to be insignificant? It doesn't mean to stop everything I'm doing. At least, I don't feel like God's telling me to stop what I'm doing. So I'm starting with a prayer. It sounds simple. "I pray I'll be insignificant." But it's the most difficult prayer I could pray.

9 comments:

Christianne said...

I so get this. And I hate that prayer, too. But that's because I need to pray it. Unfortunately, I haven't worked up the courage.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

wow, that's a difficult prayer!

as for thirty... I'll be turning 30 in October... and I'm thinking I need a HUGE rockin' party to celebrate... Care to come? LOL

nannykim said...

I do not know about the insignificant part---I would pray more like--God let me be a servant. And may you increase and I decrease-----I think that we are not insignificant because we have a purpose and glorifying God is not insignificant. So I would say that is the wrong word to use here!!

Heather said...

Nannykim, I mean insignificant in the world's eyes. In my ministry, I mean exactly what you said about me decreasing and Christ decreasing. The reason I chose that word is because of my personal struggle and desire to be significant.

Eve said...

I agree with wanting my focus to be God-ward. Because that is what is best for us.

You said,"...but then he reserved his greatest words for after the time when John would hear them."

I'd say rather that Jesus did give His greatest words to John. A puffed head would do nothing to help John in his situation. What John really needed was to remember who Christ was.

Heather said...

oops! Thank you, Heather, for pointing out my serious typo! I meant Christ increasing! I'm sure you guys figured that out.
Wow--that's a lotta exclamation points.

Pamela said...

If I pray that, I know it has already been answered.
And I hate it, too.

Karenee said...

Thanks for stopping by. I certainly do agree with your prayer also. Significance and success, according to the world, are the same thing... yet success isn't self-significance as they think, but Christ's glory.

I do think this prayer grows less difficult the more Christ radiates through life, though. Not that it ever becomes easier to release self, but that Christ-likeness brings joy greater than we can even begin to imagine, outweighing the initial pain of selflessness.

Jenn said...

Haven't read anyone's blog in ages, but I so hear you on this!