By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
We can't help it. Whenever we see someone on social media or in real life who seems to be steps ahead of us, we can't help but compare our lives to theirs. Comparison today goes beyond the traditional definition of examining things to establish similarities and dissimilarities and tends to be more about defining our self-worth by comparing our successes or failures with someone else's.
Sadly, the destructive nature of comparison leads many of us to sink into depressive thoughts, jealous behaviors, and even feelings of defeat. Most of all, it can rob us of living the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10.
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (NKJV)
If you're struggling with comparison, here are four prayers to help you on your journey:
1. "Lord, I Believe; Help My Unbelief."
One of the most authentic and powerful prayers in the Bible was stated by a father who was desperate for his son to be healed. As he spoke with Jesus, he admitted he believed the Lord could heal but followed it up with an honest admission that he struggled with unbelief. What a powerful example for us who are caught in the trap of comparison! We can take our honest feelings of unworthiness, jealousy, or defeat to Jesus and admit we struggle to believe. By doing this, we are surrendering all pretense and humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God. Not only can this lead to a breakthrough, but it can also steer us away from comparison into sweet fellowship with the Lord.
Holy God, we come to You today and declare, "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!" As we compare ourselves to others, it's easy to forget that You have a plan and purpose for our lives. We can trust You with all our hearts, minds, and souls. There is no need for comparison when You are leading us in the way we should go. Our journey will not look the same as others, and that's okay. We only want to do Your will for us - Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Please heal us today from the stronghold of comparison and give us peace. Thank you, Father, in the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
For more on this powerful prayer, check out "Help My Unbelief!" A Prayer for Faith That God Wants to Answer.
2. "Lord, Here I Am; Send Me!"
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, had a vision of God on His throne, high and lifted up. In awe of such a vision, Isaiah was immediately made aware of his sins and shortcomings when he described himself as "a man of unclean lips." At once, he was assured his sins had been atoned for as a seraph touched his mouth with a burning coal from the altar of God. Then Isaiah heard the words of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah's response was one of faithful obedience, saying, "Here am I. Send me!" This imagery is a beautiful depiction of a gracious God who atoned for our sins through His Son and calls each of us to a specific purpose. When we focus on God's plan for our lives, we are much less concerned with what others are doing and how we compare. With one simple statement, "Lord, send me," we redirect our thoughts to the path God has marked out for us, and it's a direct path out of comparison.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for focusing on other people's lives when You have a specific plan and purpose for us. Turn our thoughts away from what others are doing and turn them towards what You would like to do through us. Give us the motivation to say, "Here I am. Send me!" Just as the prophet Isaiah was able to move past his failures, so we would like to move past our failures and walk in Your ways. Thank You for leading us in the way we should go. We look to You for guidance and direction. In Jesus' name, amen.
For more about this powerful Scripture, check out “How Can We Be Like Isaiah and Say 'Here I Am Lord Send Me’?”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Martin Barraud
3. "Lord, Turn My Mind Toward Excellent Things."
So often, when we compare ourselves to others, our minds are filled with thoughts that are contrary to God. Jealousy over the way people live, look, and act becomes like idols in our minds, consuming us with "what ifs" and if only's." In contrast, when our minds are full of the things mentioned in Philippians 4:8—things that are pure, noble, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy—we don't have time to compare our lives to others. Turning our minds towards excellent things enables us to rejoice in God for the blessings we've been given. The best part is, gratefulness and praise can replace comparison faster than anything.
Lord, we know that comparison usually starts with our mindset. A thought comes in, and we entertain it until it becomes jealousy over what other people have. Please forgive us for allowing those thoughts to marinate in our minds. Help us replace them immediately with the attributes mentioned in Philippians 4:8. Turn our comparative thoughts into praiseworthy things. Fill our hearts with thanksgiving so that we are humbly grateful for what we've been given. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.
4. "Lord, Remind Me of Your Blessings."
As the old chorus goes, "Count your blessings; count them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done." This simple song is a wonderful reminder to count every blessing and recall God's goodness. From childhood to the present day, how has God blessed you and come through for you? In remembering the mighty ways in which He's worked through your life, you'll be shining a bright light on His provision and turning out the light of comparison.
Gracious God, thank You for your many, many blessings over my life. Please forgive me for overlooking the ways You've come through for me. Instead of comparison, please help me remember Your favor and goodness to me. In turn, help me bless others with the overflow of blessings You've poured out over my life. I love You and praise You, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MatthiasLindner
Jennifer Waddle is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.