I recently had the chance to interview Richella Parham on the podcast Finding Freedom from Comparing Yourself to Others – Episode 40 about our tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others. She knows the struggle. She is sharing three prayers that will help you stop comparing yourself to others. The path to freedom is paved with prayer.
Three Prayers to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
By Richella Parham
In learning to live in freedom from constant comparison, I discovered again and again that such a deep-seated habit won’t change overnight. Sometimes articles and books make promises such as “Five Steps to Success” or “21 Days to Freedom!” I’ve learned through hard experience that those are empty promises. Real, lasting change takes time.
But change is possible. If you’re worried that you’ll never break free from constantly comparing yourself to others, take heart! There is a path to freedom, and it’s paved with prayer.
Ask for God’s help
As you learn to walk in the security of the knowledge that you are God’s beloved child, you will still be tempted to compare yourself with others, so you’ll need a method to combat the temptation, right in the moment of trial. The best tool I’ve found is to ask for God’s help—to prevail upon God’s strength to accomplish what I’m too weak to do on my own. I’m not surprised that Paul exhorted his readers to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) and to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2, ESV).
Breath prayers: praying without ceasing
One of the ways that Christians over the centuries have heeded the admonishment to pray without ceasing is to develop a simple petition that can be uttered in one breath. The best-known of these “breath prayers” was adapted from one of Jesus’ parables about prayer, when Jesus warned against self-righteousness and praised the sincerity of a tax collector who pleaded, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The words “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” are known simply as the “Jesus Prayer.”
For many years, whenever I began to notice that I was comparing myself to someone else, I would berate myself. “There you go again,” I often said to myself, feeling helpless to change. I’ve learned it’s better to use that sigh of helplessness to fuel a prayer for help. The words need not be eloquent or impressive; breath prayers are not mantras to be repeated mindlessly or magic incantations. No, these are prayers to the living God, who is able and willing to help us. Hebrews 4:16 reminds us to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” A breath prayer is one way to do that.
Three prayers to stop comparing yourself to others
Depending on what’s going on in my heart when I catch myself thinking or speaking in terms of comparison, I’ve discovered that I may need one or more of three different kinds of help from God.
1. If I realize that I’m being tempted to forget my security as God’s beloved child, I say “Father, ground me in your love.”
2. If I feel that I’ve given in to comparison and then to sin, I pray, “Forgive me, Lord, and show me the way.”
3. If I’ve indulged in comparison to the point of envying another person, I’ve learned to thank God for that person’s gifts and to pray for a blessing for that person. For instance, if I find myself wishing that I had another person’s appearance, possessions, or position, I immediately pray, “Lord, please continue to bless (name) and help them use your gifts well.”
These simple words, uttered in a single breath, halt the act of comparison habit cycle in its tracks. When I replace words of comparison with words that both offer a plea to God and at the same time remind me that I am not alone in my struggle, I am reminded that there is hope for real change.
God is with us and for us, always willing to help us when we ask. With His help, we can break the toxic habit of constant comparison and learn to live in the freedom of His unfailing love.
How do you combat the tendency toward comparison? We’d love to hear your strategies in the comments below!
About Richella Parham:
Richella Parham is a speaker, a blogger at ImpartingGrace.com, and the author of Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison and A Spiritual Formation Primer.
The mother of three young adult sons, she lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband, Jack. She serves in leadership and worship planning at The Gathering Church.
Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison by Richella Parham.
After finding herself stuck in the comparison trap, Richella Parham began to study comparison in earnest. She identified myths she believed about herself, God and other people. In Mythical Me, she shares about those myths and the eternal truths she used as a map for the journey out of the comparison trap.
Anyone interested in looking a little further into the book before deciding to buy can read the first chapter at ivpress.com/mythical-me. Anyone who purchases the book can download a companion prayer guide; it’s available at mythicalmebook.com.