The Most Important Prayer for when the Holidays Overwhelm
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I love the holiday season! Well, at least the version of it that lingers in my head from childhood. The one that existed before I figured out…
- Julia Childs didn’t whip up the Turkey or Christmas ham—it was Mom.
- Alice from the Brady bunch wasn’t the one doing most of the clean-up—it was Mom.
- Elves from the North Pole didn’t doll-up the house for Christmas—it was Mom.
- Santa didn’t make sure there were presents for everyone—it was Mom.
- The postman wasn’t the one to issue bundles of Christmas cards—it was Mom.
What a wonderful time of year! Until you guessed it—I was Mom. Is it OK for me to say that? There’s sweat on my lip as I type this. Am I now a target for the Bad Mom S.W.A.T. team?
Make no mistake, I experience indescribable joy when all the family gathers. Cross my heart and hope for holiday pie…I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’m learning that the real problem has little to do with the people, presents, or putting up tinsel. The issue has more to do with my great expectations (and I’m not talking about Charles Dickens).
We’ve all been there.
The Pinterest perfect package that ours looks nothing like.
The Martha Stewart relish tray that mocks our jar of pickles.
The Joanna Gaines Christmas Tree that makes ours feel like Charlie Brown’s.
We could all make a long list. But there’s good news! I have learned over decades of zealous expectations that there are two excellent prayers that promise to carry us through this busy time of year. If you’re short on time, skip to the second one. The first is helpful, but the last one is indispensable.
“Lord, hold back the sun.”
Joshua prayed this prayer when he was in the middle of a drawn-out battle. He and the Israelites had been fighting all night, and they weren’t done. They needed more time, and God gave it.
The sun stopped in its tracks in mid sky; just sat there all day. There’s never been a day like that before or since—God took orders from a human voice! Truly, God fought for Israel. Joshua 10:13-14
I have prayed this prayer when I’m running like a crazy woman, and I know there is no darn way I will get done what I need to. I’m pretty sure astronomers would testify that God has yet to actually stop the sun for Cindy Krall. Still, I do know that more often than not, when I pray that prayer, I get done what needs to be done.
“Lord, may your Son hold me back.”
This has grown to be my favorite prayer.
God has answered the first prayer in my life many times. But I suspect He answered it so I would be brave enough to trust Him with the second. Asking God to help me (and my expectations) get out of the way has been liberating. It removes the burden of pursuing holiday perfection.
Sometimes it translates into things that hard for me:
- Crumbs on the couch.
- One batch of baked cookies instead of three.
- Boughten buns instead of homemade.
But the exchange has always been worth it. Instead of praying for time to get one more thing done, I see beautiful things happen when I pray for God to show me what to leave undone so I can experience better gifts. Things like:
- Two-hour breakfasts where the conversation is sweeter than cinnamon rolls that never got made.
- Family games peppered with the love language of sarcasm.
- Joint decorating and reminiscing as child-crafted ornaments make an appearance.
God still fights for us when we pray the second prayer.
He fights to help us see what matters most.
He fights to give us peace for what remains undone.
He fights to show us the joy that abounds in the seasons of giving thanks and “God with us”.
He fights, so we don’t have to.
Would you join me in praying this prayer for the holiday season?
“God, I thank you for the wonder of the weeks ahead. Give me clarity for what needs to be done and for what does not. When I am on track, and my motives are pure, hold the sun back, Lord. Help me accomplish what You want me to get done.
But, I also pray that You will temper my request with the right amount of holding ME back. Help me sense your guiding hand as I scale back on the things that are less important and focus more on the relationships you put before me.
Thank you for your many blessings. Thank you for your precious Son. Thank you for showing me how to celebrate in a way that is pleasing to You, a blessing to others, and a joy for me. In your Son’s precious name, Amen.”
Happy Thanksgiving friends… may we truly savor the journey.
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