Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Just Count to Ten!

I recently had a bout with anger. On the same day that I was struggling with my anger, I happened to read a devotional about counting to ten when you become angry. (Yeah, probably not a coincidence) I sighed wearily as I began to read it, because counting to ten never really works for me. But as I read on, I realized this was different, and it really did help. My devotional is geared toward a specific anger, but it can apply to any type of anger. I took out the specifics so that this outline can be used in any situation. Here’s how my devotional suggested we count to ten using prayer and scripture:

1.              I acknowledge that “man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life” You desire. Show me Your way, Lord
2.              Let me follow your wisdom and not sin. (Proverbs 4:4)
3.              Help me to search my heart and “be silent” (Psalm 4:4) waiting for your spirit to lead me, because, “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
4.              Make me “quick to listen.” (James 1:19) Help me respond and not react so I will not jump to conclusions or make hasty decisions that I will regret later.
5.              Help me to keep my head “in all situations” (2 Timothy 4:5) so that I may have wisdom.
6.              When the time comes for confrontation, fill me with an extra measure of love.
7.              Give me grace to be careful with my words, so that even when I am angry, I will say “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
8.              Help me to “restore gently” in love. (Galatians 6:1)
9.              Help me not let the sun go down “while I’m angry” (Ephesians 4:26) so that I will not harbor any resentment in my heart.
10.          Please give me grace to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) so that I may place all each one of us in your hands moment by moment. Then together we will walk from a season of anger into a season of your blessing and joy.

As I’ve written before, relationships are messy, but so necessary. We need relationships and the messiness that comes with them. That messiness oftentimes involves anger. I’m one who would much rather just run away than deal with anger. I would rather stuff it, or let an offense slide, or even walk away from some relationships, than deal with my anger. But this way of counting to ten helps me deal with that anger righteously and gracefully. It helps me to “take my thoughts captive and bring them into obedience to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) That’s something I’ve always tried and failed to do because I didn’t have anything to replace the thoughts with… they would continue to swirl until I worked myself right back into anger. 

I intend to go back to this list of ten prayers many times as I learn to work through my messy relationships. I hope you will too.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!