Planning for Failure: Hopeless Prayers

messy life

I love to plan. I have many day planners sitting around my place, all of them partially used, but filled with many lofty goals like: do laundry, run club @ 6p.m., meal prep on Sunday, and plenty of other intentions of great achievements. The app Todoist has been great in helping me keep track of what I need to be doing; what has been completed and what still remains to be addressed during the rest of the day.

For 2015 I chose ‘Plan’ as my One Word, and as I had expected, this is a word that is on my mind quite frequently. I wasn’t sure what role this word would play in my life for this year, but four months into 2015, I have noticed a planning habit that I hope to break. I realized I often bring my plans to God in prayer when I am of the belief that something might fail. My prayer often resembles something like this, “Dear God, I want to achieve this-and-that, please help me not to fall flat on my face. Help me not to fail at this!” Wow, how powerful is a prayer like this? I realized that I continually approach God like a failure. I’m not actually asking God to help me succeed at something, what I’m doing instead, is asking God to help me as a failure.

I wondered how many people approach God as a failure. How many of us know God’s plan for our lives and instead of approaching Him in the power of prayer, we turn to Him in the weakness of prayer? As Christians we have often been conditioned to approach our LORD with a sense of insecurity masquerading as humility.


The word humility signifies lowliness or submissiveness and it is derived from the Latin humilitas or, as St. Thomas says, from humus, i.e. the earth which is beneath us. As applied to persons and things it means that which is abject, ignoble, or of poor condition, as we ordinarily say, not worth much. Thus we say that a man is of humble birth or that a house is a humble dwelling. As restricted to persons, humility is understood also in the sense of afflictions or miseries, which may be inflicted by external agents, as when a man humiliates another by causing him pain or suffering. It is in this sense that others may bring about humiliations and subject us to them. Humility in a higher and ethical sense is that by which a man has a modest estimate of his own worth, and submits himself to others. According to this meaning no man can humiliate another, but only himself, and this he can do properly only when aided by Divine grace. We are treating here of humility in this sense, that is, of the virtue of humility.”

There is no need for us to bring our prayers to God in a boastful or haughty manner, but when we approach Him, let’s remember that He has, “…plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” With this knowledge and promise from God, we can pray about His individual plans for our lives with the faith and trust of knowing He has the best of intentions with our lives. Our God isn’t the type to give you a calling and make plans for your lives so He can sit back and watch you fail. There will be failures, false starts, detours, and many other forms of distractions along the way, but these are all part of the process of God’s plan for you. Human error does not make you a failure, it makes you human.

happy people plan

QUESTION: Do you sometimes find yourself approaching God in prayer with a failure mentality? When you pray, do you do so with the mindset that God is caring enough to help you succeed at your plans? How do you often react to personal failure?

APPLICATION: Over the next week, pay close attention to the words you use during your personal prayer time. Reflect on whether or not your words are reflections of trusting the LORD or show doubt in God’s abilities.