The Three-Word Prayer God Loves
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)
When my husband, Michael, and I were first married and differences arose between us, praying was definitely not my first thought. In fact, it was closer to a last resort. I tried other methods first, such as arguing, pleading, ignoring, avoiding, confronting, debating, and—of course—the ever-popular silent treatment. And the results? Not surprisingly, they were less than satisfying!
When I did pray, often resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or an ungodly attitude clouded my communication with God. While I may have had a good reason for these emotions, my prayers were not coming from a right heart. What's more, I was praying that my husband would conform to my ideal image of him. My prayer was for God to change him into the person I wanted him to be.
However, as I went to God in prayer every day, something unusual started to change—me. I was the one God decided to work on first, not my husband. Gently, the Lord began to soften my heart. Humble it. Mold it. And reconstruct it. As He did so, He erased the bitterness and resentment that were affecting my attitude and damaging my marriage.
And this is how I came to discover a three-word prayer God loves: Change me, Lord.
Gradually I came to realize that it was impossible to truly give myself in prayer for Michael without first examining my own heart.
And it wasn't just my relationship with my husband that required me to pray this powerful three-word prayer. My relationship with my son and daughter required it. My relationships with my friends required it. Most of all, my relationship with God required it.
Change me, Lord.
I went into my prayer time with the goal of asking God to change others—making them less critical and more obedient. Less fearful. More loving.
I came out of my prayer time with my own heart changed. My mind changed. My attitude changed. My life changed.
Now, if you're like how I was, this might make you mad at first. "Wait a minute!" you might object. "I'm not the one who needs changing here!"
But God sees the things we can't see. He knows where we have room for improvement. He doesn't have to search long to uncover attitudes and habits that are outside His perfect will for us.
Sometimes God uncovers sin in our hearts. This is important to identify because it separates us from Him and hinders our prayers being heard as Psalm 66:18 tells us,"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (NKJV). God wants our hearts to be right so the answers to our prayers are not compromised.
Early in my marriage, I knew it was important to pray for my husband. And a favorite trio of three-word prayers was often on my lips: Protect him, Lord. Save our marriage. Change him, Lord. I was convinced that this was the right way to pray, that God and I had the same goal in mind—a changed husband who was able to better meet my needs. But God's way is not always our way. God didn't choose to make those first changes in my husband. He chose to make them in me.
One of the greatest gifts I could give to Michael was the gift of my own wholeness. One of the most effective tools in seeing transformation in his life was my own transformation.
You have to trust that God is big enough to accomplish all this and more.
I learned to pray a new prayer: Whatever you want, Lord. Show me and I'll do it. Change me, Lord.
Lord, create in me a clean heart and a right spirit before You. Give me a new, positive, joyful, loving, and forgiving attitude toward others. Where there is anything that needs to change in me, I pray You would enable that change to happen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Are you praying for God to change others but ignoring the possible change needed in you? What might God need to work on in your own life—selfishness, impatience, resentment—before your relationships with others can begin to change?
When you begin to get frustrated with others, take a look at your own heart and pray Change me, Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:24, "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." (NKJV)
Psalm 139:23, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties..." (NKJV)