One Prayer That God Always Answers
Today’s blog will be the last in the Adventures of a Broken Back. I’m very sorry if this news is disappointing to you. It’s been a good run (over 2 months now), and I have sincerely enjoyed connecting with you on this level. I have appreciated your comments and feedback. But it is time for me to stop carrying the whole blog on my back before it gets sore.
I wish to begin by stating that God does answer prayers. Not necessarily all prayers (which is a good thing since some of our prayers aren’t particularly good ideas). However, there is one prayer that God has always answered for me every single time. Are you interested in Sean Terry’s patent pending secret formula? You may want to take a moment and grab a paper and pen. It is a simple prayer that goes like this: “Lord, humble me.”
That’s it. It does not get more complicated. I have found in my experience that God never misses an opportunity to put me on the ground. And that statement works metaphorically, literally, and etymologically! The root word for “humility” comes from an old word meaning “earth”. The picture that humility represents is of one becoming close to the dirt, and remembering that just as Adam was made from dust, so are we. To be humbled is to no longer spend your strength on standing up straight, but instead using it to bow down and catch your breath. That posture of being brought low is where our hearts are malleable enough for the Holy Spirit to do his best work!
I’ve learned a great deal about the power of humility over the last several months. It started with my complete emotional breakdown in January and continued through the recovery from my back injury that occurred in March. If you would have asked me before all this if I thought I was humble, I might have replied, “I don’t know. I hope so but I guess we’ll find out.” I knew this because I know that the true contents of our heart usually can’t be revealed without some pressure. Meaning we often don’t realize how unhealthy our attitudes are until things go wrong.
Scripture says both “out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaks” (Luke 6:45) and “what goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:11) So we ought to pay very close attention to what we say when we are in pain. As I’ve shared before, when I broke my back my voice was anything but pleasant and humble. This habit wasn’t derived from only being frustrated, but by being ashamed that I was in such a miserable position; which is a result of harboring pride within. “Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.” (“Bitter Work”, Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Humility will literally save your life. When the prodigal son found himself broke and helpless, rather than starve to death he went back to his family and confessed that he sinned against them; earning him a great feast in the process (Luke 15). When Esther was preparing to request from her king that she needed his help, she first acknowledged that doing so proved an enormous risk that could lead to her death, but through humility she earned his favor and saved her people (Esther 8). When Israel was suffering for three days from a fatal epidemic that killed 70,000 people, it was only by King David’s humility before the Lord that the plague ended (2 Samuel 24). And the place where he built an altar became the foundation of the Temple of Solomon (2 Chronicles 3). Finally, when Jesus was nailed to the cross, two thieves were positioned on either side of him. Each had a different response to the Savior between them. One tried to justify himself, but was humiliated. The other humbled himself, and became justified.
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other responded, and rebuking him, said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our crimes; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
You cannot humiliate the humble. Those that recognize how far they are from God end up right where He wants them to be. Paul wrote that where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. This is because the multiplicand of God’s power in us is determined by the extent of our surrender to Him. The lower we get, the softer our hearts become. And the softer our heart becomes, the more He will sculpt it into the shape He wants. Our nakedness and vincibility is the channel God uses to show love to us and the world. You simply cannot help someone on the bottom when you won’t budge from your pedestal.
Why do I say all this? Because the moral of all these stories I’ve shared is that I found more love in a few months of brokenness than I ever did in the years of trying to mimic wholeness. True restoration cannot be possible without a true acknowledgment that something is broken in you. Doing so invites God in to fix what only He can. As 1 Peter says, humiliation leads to glory!
1 Peter 5:5-6
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Dan Allender wrote this, “For most leaders, humility comes only by wounds suffered from foolish falls.” And Proverbs backs this up.
Proverbs 16:8 NIV
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
God probably got a good laugh out of that one when I was on my floor covered in fiberglass insulation. Eventually I did too. I shared in the first week that my broken back felt strangely like it was a damp towel being wrung out, while on fire. This was coincidentally a very precise illustration of how God squeezes the junk out of our life. By His mighty hands in a baptism of fire.
Matthew 3:11 ESV
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
So in conclusion, please don’t wait until the fall like I did before recognizing the blessing that humility can bring when you lean into it. It is far better to be changed than to be healed. It is far better to find fellowship with Christ by following him in his sufferings; that is the path that leads to resurrection from death. There are many things that are better dealt with sooner rather than later. Why wait? Seek God now while He may be found.
Isaiah 55:6-7 NASB
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked abandon his way,
And the unrighteous person his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.