Most days I begin by journaling. Here is a prayer from my journal. It is good for us as leaders to be open to God about our shortcomings. It is also good to remind ourselves who he is, to tell him how we feel about him.
Good morning, Lord. I realize as I begin my journal today that I often begin with me—my shortcomings, my frustration, my depression, my anxiety, my concerns, my needs—me, me, me. Even if I had the most unfaithful yesterday in human history, it would be better to start this day (and every one) focusing on You. Even if I had the most amazing yesterday ever, I am not the focus of my life!
Thank You, Father, that You are good. I am not good in myself, but You are always good. You are consistent, reliable goodness. You don’t go bad like the strawberries on our kitchen counter this morning. You are always fresh and true. Your care for me doesn’t wear thin or grow old. You don’t get tired of who I am. (You may lose patience and grow angry with the ways that I walk away from You rather than towards You, but You do not grow weary of me).
You are always right, but not in a small, “I-told-you-so” sort of way. You are pure. There is no not-God in You. You are who You are. There is no comparing You with someone or something else.
You are beautiful. A simple flower or graceful hummingbird is grey and dreary next to the vibrancy of Your presence. Or, maybe it’s better to say that every beauty I see is a faint reflection of Your bracing beauty.
I admire You. This sounds different than praising You. Praising is a good word, but, in my heart and mind, it has become synonymous with “singing songs I often don’t like in a gathering of Christians.” Heartfelt praise is more like the excitement I feel watching a world-class athlete perform at her peak, more like the amazement I feel looking at the clean beauty of a breaking wave, more like the wonder of watching hummingbird after hummingbird come to visit my feeder this morning.
Father, I have felt far from You because I gazed at the ugliness of my own line-crossings and shortcomings, instead of contemplating Your beauty. And when I stare at my bentness instead of gazing at Your goodness, I am lost. Really lost! I see the need to die to the false image I project of being well-adjusted and pretty good. Apart from You, Lord, I have no more life than a plucked flower. I wither and decay without You. I dry up. I lose all vitality. If prayer is an answer to my predicament, then it isn’t prayer as a Christian duty to be performed, but prayer as a living, vital encounter and union with You.