Misplaced Guilt

I sit praying for names, and faces, and the guilt comes. It used to be I only had one or two that I fervently prayed over each night. I’d spend hours on my face before God on behalf of one. Now? There are so many. I could easily fill a months worth of days with names of the spiritually needy, most roughly within a decade in age, that I’ve met, and committed to pray for at various times or places.  Now it’s “God take him, and him, and her, and him, and her, and… wrap them in Your arms. Show them (or bring them back to) your salvation. They need you. Help me be a witness. Amen.”

I want healing for these people; I want to have time to pray for each and every one. The reality is that I don’t. I don’t have time to pray long and hard for each name. I’m just one person. And so I keep praying. I reassure myself that the Spirit knows my heart for each person and will intercede with the groans and emotions that I cannot adequately express. But still, I sometimes feel guilty. Sometimes I don’t feel spiritual enough. Sometimes I go beyond acknowledging insufficiency, and begrudge myself because of it.

I know what I need. I need to accept my humanness; that this shell which contains my soul is imperfect. I need to rely on a God who chooses to use imperfect vessels. I need to realize that it takes time to mature in Christ. I know what I need to accept, but honestly I still struggle. I know that it’s supposed to be a love (not guilt) relationship, and I do love Him. I want to grow more. That more takes time, and a patience I do not possess. I need His help, His grace, His strength to make it through. That’s me right now: still struggling, still imperfect, still needy. I’m no super-Christian, and I like to know that I’m not alone. So tell me, has misplaced guilt ever got to you?

(As a side note: I did make a list of names last night. It was longer than a month. It’s at 54 and growing.)

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Misplaced Guilt

  1. Yes. Misplaced guilt is always there, waiting for a chance to worm its way in. It always needs to be answered with the truth.

    There are many faces to that misplaced guilt, and it can be hard. Ever felt guilty that you weren’t there when a friend needed someone? Ever felt guilty that you didn’t have an answer to someone’s anguished question? Guilty that you didn’t heal the hurting? Guilty because you didn’t save?

    I find so many times misplaced guilt comes when we (I!) think to take up the job of God, and in trying to take over His job we fall short and somehow think we are falling down on our job. In a moment of clarity you look back and see how foolish it is. He is the one who is there for the needing, He is the one with the answers, the healing, the saving. It is not our job to be Atlas, and hold up the world–God does that. We only cause ourselves needless sorrow when we try to take over God’s job.

    In response to your particular guilt in regards to prayer, in my own life I try to remember (in answer to those thoughts of guilt) that prayer to God should be relational and alive, not dead works. Satan loves to decieve us into approaching our prayer life as an act of our own self-willed work when what it should be is a living of fellowship and dependence on God.

    And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8) What are the full implications of this? I think about it. I try to remember that long prayers do not necessarily always equate with better prayers.

    I, from time to time, will make prayer lists. I do not think they are an intrinsinc evil, but they can become a snare–a laundry list whereby we remind God of what He needs to be doing. So I try to be careful how (and how much) I used them. God doesn’t need us nagging Him, or fretting over the people we don’t think He is taking care of quite so well as He ought. (And I am very guilty of doing these exact things)

    God hasn’t forgotten anyone, and He doesn’t need reminding. So often I find the better path is to, instead of telling God what needs to be done, and reminding Him, to instead ask. Pray to Him to show you who you should pray for, but even more, remember silence. Sometimes faith is being still and silent, and listening instead of talking. As we are told, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

    There is a season for all things, for long heart-wrenching prayer, and for silence. God leads in all seasons.

    I think about these things a lot, but I think that is enough of my thinking here 😉


    • Thank you for your words. They are a great encouragement. You speak truth as one who knows.

      It is easy to do that with lists, isn’t it? I’ve been altering my use of mine lately. It is good to have all the names in one place though.

      I struggle with silence. There are so many thoughts fighting for attention, and it’s so hard to drop them all. I need stillness.

      Again, thank you for the reminders. Your words really came at the right time. God has used you in my life, and I thank you for being a willing instrument.

  2. You are welcome! When I write to others I try to remember to write as I would wish I were written too.

    I also struggle with silence, in spite of my commendation of it. I think perhaps in my own experience I have been most “successful” (I should not presume success) is when I have gone out into nature. Within the four square walls of my room I find the silence and weight and clamor of my own thoughts presses particularly hard. If I go outside to a quiet empty place I find my thoughts reach a better stillness and quiet. Just my personal experience.

    An advantage of a list that I have found is that it can function at later times as a reminder of the faithfulness of God. It is easy to forget all of the things prayed for in the past, and so forget the goodness of His works. But in flipping through things I have written before, I am reminded of answers recieved (often not recongized in the time past), and my heart is reminded to lift up in thankfulness.

    And that is certainly a good thing.

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