The Death and Resurrection of the Self: A Prayer
Lord, You said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
These words of Yours, these very hard-to-understand words, are even harder to live.
Yet I want to live them. I just don’t know how.
Part of the problem is that I don’t know what You are asking of me. Part of the problem is that I do.
Help me to realize what You are doing in my life, Lord, and how You are doing it. You are changing me into Your likeness—and You are doing it day by day, decision by decision. Thank You for this incremental wonder. And help me, incrementally, to work with You in bringing it about.
And so I ask . . .
May I feel the weight of that cross on each thought I think, so my thoughts could die and Yours be given life.
May I feel the hardness of its wood over every word I speak so my words could be silenced and yours be heard.
May I feel the roughness of its surface against all I do, so that what I do is what You would do if You were here. Because that is how You are here. Through me.
When I am tempted to think more highly of myself than I should, bring to mind that though You existed in the form of God, You did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Yourself—taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in the appearance as a man, You humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (Phil 2:6-8).
When I am tempted to respond to harsh words by returning the harshness, help me to realize the example You set for me on the cross, that while You were reviled, You did not revile in return; while suffering, You uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Yourself to Him who judges righteously.
When I am tempted to act selfishly, draw me once again to Your cross, where You gave so freely and so fully. To Your executioners, You gave forgiveness. To a thief, paradise. To Your mother, a son.
May I never grow weary of living like that, Lord, seeking rest from the responsibility of that cross, understanding that this dying to self is not a one-time crucifixion but a way of life.
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