A few weeks ago I posted about praying outwardly. The theme was starting with yourself and God and praying out from there, using the High Priestly Prayer of John 17 as a guide; using Jesus as a model for your actions. But as I thought about this post in the days and weeks that followed I realized I missed something. I should not have started with God and myself, but with God. After all, Jesus is God, so His prayer in John 17 does not just start with the Father and Him, it starts with God.
Several years ago as a relatively new Christian, I went through a study in a small group at church using the Navigators 2:7 series. It is a great was to either ground or refresh yourself in the basics of your Christian faith. I recommend it highly. One of the items reviewed is a way to pray, summarized by the acronym ACTS (Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication). It is a way to focus your prayer time, making sure you not only make it about your needs, but making you focus on the wonder of God before anything else.
But even with ACTS the majority of the focus is on self: your sins, your thankfulness, your needs or requests. I have often thought since that session that the majority of my prayer time should be spent on praise, on Him, not me. So as I now think about prayer, and praying outwardly, I think about starting with God and not self. He knows my needs (better than I do), he knows my sins, my faults and weaknesses (way better than I do). Isn't it a glorious thought to want to spend the majority of your prayer time just praising Him in all His glory? Isn't it enough that He is god and He has reached out and saved me from myself?
As I look at the picture again, wouldn't it be so much better to think of self as the first circle, and the center to be the blinding light of the Lord?