I would be embarrassed if you could see my thoughts. I try to conceal how self-centered I am, but if you had this view to my inner mind, you would see the truth.
I think about myself all the time.
I get ready in the morning and think about how I look. I drive to work and think about what I have to do that day. I run through upcoming conversations and think about what I am going to say. I walk away from interactions and think about how I was perceived. I plan for the future and think about how I will position myself to get what I want.
Seriously. I my thoughts are ALL. ABOUT. ME.
(I hope, in admitting this, you might admit that you think about yourself a lot, too? I don't think I'm alone...)
This self-centered thought life also translates into a self-centered prayer life.
My prayers certainly seem spiritual and pious. I pray for my heart’s devotion towards God. I pray for my actions and attitude to reflect those of Christ. I pray for forgiveness for my sins and help to do better next time. I pray for wisdom and peace. I pray for my kids and my marriage and my role in loving those God has placed in my life.
None of these are bad things. But they are all me things. Me and my are perhaps the most common words in my prayers. Perhaps spoken even more often than God and Lord.
Even when something not about me does pierce my heart, and therefore break into my prayers, it is usually related to some tragedy that I beg God’s help to change. I pray in some general sense for His will to be done and love to be shown and felt.
I don’t know the last time I praised God for someone else’s existence and prayed specifically for their blessing. Besides perhaps a few specific people who I care about deeply, I don’t know if I have ever done that.
And so, I feel challenged by Psalm 45. It is a blessing and a love song. And it is still a prayer.
It praises the king and reminds him of his identity as God’s chosen leader.
You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever. In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. - Psalm 45:2, 4, 7
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have a choir of people singing this kind of blessing over you?
True, the model of the Israelite life of faith was different than ours. Their relationship with God and their success as a country were inextricably tied to the success of their king. So, they had some extra motivation to pray and bless in this way.
But in Christ, aren’t we each the recipients of God’s blessing? What if we prayed like this for each other?
What if we reminded one another of our identity as heirs in God’s Kingdom? That we are adopted sons and daughters of a King, called to live in truth, humility, and justice? That we are blessed and called to be a blessing?
The Psalm also prays blessing over the king’s bride.
Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord. - Psalm 45:10-11
And aren’t each of us, through Christ, God’s beloved? What if we prayed like this for each other?
What if we reminded one another of our identity as Christ’s bride? What if we told each other that we are beautiful? That we need to leave our pasts behind and let ourselves be loved?
It honors God to when we root one another in or identities as His heirs and beloveds. When, in our private prayers, we pray for each other to know these truths. And, better yet, when we speak these kinds of words of affirmation for those around us in public.
I know I want to do this. I want to be less self-centered. In my thought life and in my prayer life. Will you join me? Let’s say out loud to each other:
You are blessed. You have a purpose. You are loved. You are beautiful.
Walk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.