Daily Devotional for Small Group Discussion: A Prayer in Need of Tweaking
- What is your favorite self-help book? What are your most-used self-help prayers?
- How do you pray when things are out of your control?
- How are you practicing surrender during Lent?
Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. – Psalm 17:8-9 (NRSV)
Too often, when I look back on my prayers, they sound like the sacred version of a self-help book: Heal me. Strengthen me. Make me whole.
It starts to feel like I am approaching God as if—in the immortal words of You’ve Got Mail—I am a project that is in need of tweaking.
The harder prayer to say out loud, even when no one but God will hear, is that there is quite a bit in the world, and my life, that is out of my control. There are forces that are too big for me to manage. There are issues that need divine intervention and holy love. There are problems I need to hand over to God because it is too much for any one person—or even any one church or community—to solve on their own. In those moments, prayer is less about self-help and more about admitting we require God’s help.
The most important times to call on God might be when I encounter a situation that is out of my power and in need of a higher power, whether it is ending oppression, enacting justice, or living in harmony with my enemies. God doesn’t expect us to fix a broken world by ourselves; God only expects to meet us in our brokenness and take it from there.
Dear God: Guard me. Hide me. Shelter me from the storms of life that rage out of my control. Amen.
Liz Miller serves as the pastor of Edgewood United Church (UCC) in East Lansing, Michigan.