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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The "Don't Listen To Me" Prayer

So I have this big thing against complaining.  I feel justified in my anti-complaining stance - after all, God isn't fond of it either, and since we are to imitate Him, well, you draw your own conclusion!

The thing that gets me about complaining is that at the heart of it it smacks of discontent and ingratitude.  I know a few particular people who have a big thing against ingratitude, and if you know any, you will know how easy it is to raise their ire.  Just don't thank them.  Enough.  Or sincerely enough.  Or at all.  Or act entitled.  The offense this causes is my reaction to complaining.  My children know it.  My husband knows it.  Complaining is simply off limits in my house.

In fact, it is so off limits, that I even react when it is subtle.  Or not so subtle since you'd have to be a genius to slip complaining by me in any form and have it go unnoticed.  I may be kind and ignore it.  Or I may just call you on it.  Don't try your luck!

So you will be shocked to know that I, too, of all people, who so nobly turn my nose up at complaining, once in a while, have a complaining heart.

Aaargh.

Then I face the very thing in me that I so detest in others.  And it happened to me the other day.

You see, we have never had a headboard for our bed (or a footboard for that matter).  For a year we slept on a mattress on the floor, while we were in transition.  I got much stronger leg and back muscles from that, to the point where I now feel somewhat of a wimp, enjoying the luxury of a bed that sits on a basic frame.

But once in a while, in a hotel or as a guest, we experience the headboard thing.  Our bed doesn't end up sliding out from the wall, my pillows don't fall down the crack and I began to realize that this headboard thing is the next step in luxurious living.

But we have been focussed on settling everyone in our house with highest priorities falling to kids and such.  And right now we can't afford a headboard (*sigh*).  Well, of course we could spend on it and pay later, or juggle things around, but it just isn't a priority in our family budget.  And probably won't be for a while.

And I woke up the other day with the first thought popping into my head, "I guess someday we'll eventually get a headboard."  And I caught myself.  "Quit it!  Of all the things in life concerning you, you think of a headboard?!  There are people grieved, suffering, dying, ailing, hurting, fearful, and lost and you dwell on a headboard!?  Get over yourself."

And I knew God was listening in on my thoughts, since He knows and sees the ponderings of our souls.  And I said, "Okay Lord, just don't listen to me right now.  These thoughts aren't exactly the kind of thing I want you to hear.  Let me just sort this out and shut down this complaining heart before I let you in on my thoughts."  I do this whenever I have ungodly thoughts.  I call it the Don't-Listen-To-Me prayer.  Because I know God knows what I'm thinking.  And once in a while I am quite ashamed of myself for thinking such things.

Sometimes I want to read the imprecatory Psalms over someone, and then I repent and pray the Don't-Listen-To-Me-Right-Now prayer.

Even though the Psalmist didn't pray that, but felt quite comfortable calling on God to deal with His enemies in most unsavory ways.

I know I can be honest with God about the things going on within me - as we all can.  But I do recognize when my thoughts are me-centred, petty, unrighteous, unholy and filled with complaining.  It is at those times I arrest myself and simply ask God to not listen to me.  I do this because at those moments when I think of Who He is and all He has done, I realize my complaints (not borne out of soul suffering, but merely whiney, self-pitying stuff) are rude, offensive and denying of His daily mercy and grace in my life.

And in fact, the Don't Listen To Me prayer does help me.  Because it arrests me at that moment and tells me, "Hey, if you have to pray that, don't you think there is something going on that needs correcting and changing?"  It forces me to address the ugliness in my soul and re-focus on what - or Who - is eternal.

I invite you to pray the Don't Listen To Me prayer too.  Because all our thoughts lie open before Him.  Certainly He knows how sinful we can be.  I'm sure He'll give us a minute or two (hour, day, week etc). to realign ourselves to His purpose and to reflect on His grace.

And it certainly does wonders to tweak a complaining heart.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I'm going to start praying the Don't Listen to Me prayer -- for exactly the same reason you use it: knowing God is indeed listening, but I need the reminder that I am about to pray something unworthy of Who He Is.

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