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A Prayer to Fight Feelings of Shame
By Heather Caliri
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. - Psalm 34:5
My most consistent spiritual discipline has been shaming myself about spiritual disciplines. Is that really what God wants for me?
Shame takes a lot of mental energy. It also makes spending time with God seem like a chore, something I do because I should, not because I’m legitimately thirsty. Shame is incredibly corrosive.
Here’s what’s crazy: the shame is a lie. I’m not in charge of my spiritual life; Jesus is. I’m not responsible for healing and change; Jesus is. And even if I don’t feel adequate, Jesus most certainly is.
Turning over that shame to him is a work in progress, though. Here’s how I’m practicing.
I’d like to want to pray as much as I want to go play a round of Angry Birds. Sometimes I do want that, of course: praying with my prayer partner, resting on the Sabbath, studying the Word in my small group brings me lasting joy. But often, at 8 pm, I don’t feel like picking up my Bible. I’d rather go zone out.
The usual ‘disciplined’ response to this conundrum is to try harder. But I have a tricky relationship with trying harder after experiencing abuse (spiritual and otherwise) early in my life. I spent years being “good” under threat. Trying harder repeats patterns that shredded me.
I sense God tugging me towards surrender instead of more effort. When I feel shame about not wanting to pray, I stop, and offer up a super-simple, one sentence prayer:
Help me desire to come close to you, Jesus.
I’m trying not to judge the results. I’m trying to stop trying and start depending. To trust that God can change even me.
God, these tiny little prayers feel like cheating. Does that even count? Yes, I know they do. Help me combat these feelings of shame by speaking truth, by offering up these small prayers of surrender as I can and trusting they are enough. Give me freedom from the shame I am feeling. Help me fix my thoughts on you, not on my past, my failures or hurts. Give me eyes to see your goodness. Amen.
Shame lies about how hard I have to work at faith. Shame keeps me blind to the ways God is already growing and healing me. Shame substitutes a checklist for a relationship. It uses the logic of the marketplace instead of the dear, loving embrace of a Father.
I’m dropping my yardstick and falling to the ground, ready to depend on the One who whispers beloved.
This devotional was taken in part from Heather Caliri’s article, 3 Ways to Stop Striving and Start Resting in Jesus. You can read that piece in full here.