I have always struggled with prayer. I can study the Bible for hours if allowed to (which I'm not)-I love looking up the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words, thrill in searching for commentaries, and delight in comparing different versions-what can I say? I'm a theology student at heart. But pray? Not so much. It's not that I don't believe in its power, or that I don't think it's important-I do-but it comes very haltingly for me.
Enter Bill Hybels' Too Busy Not to Pray. I've had this book for years and I think I started it, but was too busy to finish (oh, the irony). But recently, with my prayer life quite Mojave-like, I picked it up again. There are several good points that Hybels makes and I would recommend the book to anyone. However, there is one part that really struck me and that's his view on the benefits of confession and specifically naming our faults.
"Confession is probably the most neglected area in personal prayer today...We throw all our sins onto a pile without so much as looking at them, and we say, 'God, please cover the whole dirty heap.'"I really wish he wouldn't step on my toes so hard. Guilty. "Lord, forgive me of my sins," has been a prayer of mine countless times. Is it truly confessing? Nope. It's sitting in my ivory tower and "shooing" my bad deeds away with my nose in the air and a righteous look on my face. Our pastor said just recently, "As Christians we're good at recognizing we're sinners; we're not good at recognizing we're sinning." Man, he can bring it!
Hybels continues: " I don't think many of us Christians take confession seriously enough. If we did, our lives would be radically different. When you're totally honest about your sins, something happens. About the fifth day in a row that you have to call yourself a liar, a greedy person, a manipulator or whatever, you say to yourself, I'm tired of admitting that. With God's power, I've got to root it out of my life."
So while I firmly believe that it's good to count your blessings-of which there are many-it's also good to count your sins. Don't just do a blanket prayer that gets you out of facing its ugliness. Sit down and truly confess. Whereas my prayer used to be, "God, help me to be a better mother," just this morning it was, "God, yesterday I allowed my children to be disobedient to me. James 4:17 tells me that if I know to do right and don't do it, it's sin. I sinned in allowing my children to disobey, and I disobeyed myself, as your child! Forgive me of that and cause me (I prefer that to "help me") to be diligent in correcting my children for their own benefit."
And you know what? I felt better. I didn't confess for that reason, but it was a recognition of a wrong path, and I felt that I'd be better equipped the next time the situation arises (about 5.3 seconds later). I am more aware of that than if I'd just prayed the "better mom" prayer. Nothing wrong with asking for help-the Bible gives tons of verses about that-just better to ask for specific help. NOW I can count my blessings!