Days of Elijah: I Alone Am Left

Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!

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Sunday's Scripture ~ I Kings 19:1-10.

Devotional Scripture ~ Hebrews 4:16.

This may sound weird...especially coming from a life-long Christian that vocationally serves as a pastor...

I have a weird relationship with prayer. And I shouldn't because I am a life-long Christian that vocationally serves as a pastor...

But I do.

I spend time in prayer. I lead prayers. And yet, I still have a weird relationship with prayer.

I prefer to offer prayers written by others rather than praying off the top of my head. I worry about my prayers not being polished or making sense. I worry about my prayers not articulating the heart of what I am feeling or what others may be experiencing.

And so, I found a resource entitled The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal. It is a 52-week journal that offers a variety of prayer prompts to consider as a way to explore and expand a person's relationship with prayer. I am committing to completing this journal over the next year (wow!) and sharing my reflections on this platform.

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Our devotional scripture from Hebrews encourages faithful followers to approach God's throne of grace with confidence - especially the confidence that we will receive the help we seek in our time of need. This is a very fitting place for me to begin this year-long exploration of prayer...because just as I have a weird relationship with prayer, I also have a weird relationship...with asking for help.

I often encourage helping and promote environments for helping; yet, I seldom ask for help. I do not want to be seen as weak or ineffective. I do not want to be judged or rejected for asking for help. And I certainly do not want to be a burden to others. I often think, "we all have more than enough on our plates," and so I just need to grit my teeth and bear it.

But...is that really the way to live? Is that really the way I want to live? Going through life gritting my teeth and bearing it?

In short - no.

So...what is the alternative? The alternative is (drumroll...) asking for help.

(Surprise! Or not...)

Asking for help begins with vulnerability. It begins with growing in both comfort and awareness that I - that we - are not the be-all end-all self-sufficient folks I - we - fancy myself - ourselves - to be. We need one another. I cannot - we cannot - do it all on our own.

Changing my relationship with asking for help from others begins with first asking for God's help in changing my spirit - specifically help to lay down my stubbornness and pride and to take up a greater gentleness of spirit towards myself. I am not weak, ineffective, or burdensome to others by asking for help.

And neither are you.

God created us for relationship, to be helpmates, to be the keeper of all our sisters and brothers and siblings. To be in the best possible position to help others...I believe God wants me - us - to be in the best possible relationship with asking for and receiving help. My journey towards this destination will continue through the winding paths of vulnerability, of welcoming others to see me and to come alongside me in all seasons and all weathers. I trust that a greater gentleness of personal spirit will strengthen my heart, my confidence, and my resolution to ask for help.

Reflection Question: Write down the things that you usually lack the confidence to ask or the things that may seem to small to ask.

Prayer: "And God will raise you up on eagle's wings. Bear you on the breath of dawn. Make you to shine like the sun. And hold you in the palm of his

hand!"* Amen.

*"On Eagle's Wings," The United Methodist Hymnal 143.

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