Occasionally, I meet someone who tells me they never pray for themselves, and I am stunned. Praying for oneself is natural and necessary. Help me, O God, to live in your presence. Keep me focused on your desire for the world, and show me the path you would have me walk are all prayers that are honest, make sense, and honor God. Of course, we can pray selfishly and we ought to try to avoid too much of this, but never praying for ourselves could suggest we don't need God at all.
Anne Dillard's little book on prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow is a delightful exploration of this kind of prayer. Dillard demonstrates that the universal cry for help is natural and ought to lead to prayer. When we are lost, terrified of tomorrow and confused about how to be present to others, the simple prayer, Help! is a very honest way to tell God that we need direction. Moreover, when we remember to say thank you to God for always being there, our prayer is complete.
The blind man's insistent cry for help is a good Gospel example of this. Though many tried to quiet him, fearing perhaps that he was disturbing Jesus or being foolish, the blind man shouted all the louder when he knew Jesus was near. So should we. Asking for help everyday to live God's dream for us not only reminds us of our dependence on God, it honors God by acknowledging his power to impact our everyday lives.
Today, respond to someone else's request for help, even if you don't have time.
Why is it sometimes difficult for you to ask for help?