A Dangerous Prayer: Lord, am I THAT guy?
Here is an excellent quote from Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy by Leslie Vernick: “Our pride makes us unwilling to be taught, unwilling to be warned, and unwilling to be wrong, and because of our self-deception, we don’t realize we’re so unwilling and prideful. We just think we’re seeing things as they really are. But the Bible says, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death’ (Proverbs 14:12). When we are closed to the influence of wise people in our lives, we’re vulnerable to making poor choices.”
Listening is a difficult skill for all of us, especially when we are the topic. Peter even refused to listen to Jesus (God himself) when told that he would deny Jesus three times. (Of course it is possible Peter had adult ADHD, in which case we can give him a bit of a pass.) When we learn to openly listen to input about ourselves, it is harder to fall victim to self-deception. Also, we learn that wisdom doesn’t only come from wise grey-beards with impressive pedigrees; it can even come from people further down the ladder than us. That’s because God is not opposed to sharing his insights through the lowly. Unfortunately, pride can render even the most mature Christian incapable of listening. When life throws them an “unexpected” curve, they are caught off guard, bewildered, angry and hurt. They naturally lash out at others. But if we have a shred of teachable attitude left within us, the first thing to examine is our own heart, though we can’t accurately undertake such an effort alone. We need God’s help AND the help of other people.
One of the most important, and dangerous, prayers every Christian can pray is: Lord, is there anything in me you want to change, and if so will you please help me change? Or, in more hip vernacular: Lord, am I THAT guy or gal? This is a dangerous prayer because in my experience God ALWAYS answers this prayer (if offered sincerely), and the process of change that follows can be painful and long, sometimes taking years to unfold. In addition, the process can push nearly everything else in our life to the sidelines. The first thing God often shows us (especially us men) is pride that has crept into our life, even when we thought we were the epitome of humility. Ironically, some of the most prideful people are also insecure. But God can help us through both issues, and it sure feels good when he is finished crushing our pride. If we never pray this prayer, we will continue to screw up in new and exciting ways year after weary year. More importantly, we will continue to be obnoxious and damage our relationships.
Throughout history, stubbornness, aka pride, has wreaked havoc on God’s people. No wonder God resists the proud (and don’t I know it!), but he loves a malleable heart. In my humble opinion (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), pride is Satan’s most effective tool against God’s people, and he uses it with perverse relish. Pride, and its twisted cousin “moral superiority,” are the root of much mischief, hurts and mean-spirited behavior between Christians. Perhaps that’s why fewer and fewer people are attracted to Christianity in America.
To combat pride, every Christian would be wise to memorize ten words found in Romans 12:3: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. . .” That said, it is important to understand that some psychiatric conditions have certain symptoms that resemble those of a person struggling with pride. That’s why it is important to get checked out by a trained mental health professional. If you are interested in learning more about the dangers posed by pride, below are links to two excellent articles about pride and the raw conflict and deception it can cause. They are written for church leaders, but apply to all believers.