Extreme makeover: Prayer edition

On a Saturday morning just a little more than a month ago, I was getting ready to speak at a women’s conference with fellow Time of Grace writer Linda Buxa. A week earlier my hair stylist cut several inches off my hair. A lot of people tout short hair as easier, but that morning the minutes ticked by and combing, primping, and praying left me no closer to being presenter ready. 

Thank you, Jesus. I finally realized I needed to quit praying about hair and start praying for hearts. Specifically, I prayed God would open the hearts of those attending the conference so the Word would be powerful and effective to do the work it was intended to do. 

It is easy to get caught up in appearances and miss the heart of the matter. I pray my children do well in school, but acing school might not bring them closer to being the light in God’s kingdom I hope they will be. The character God desires for that child may very well happen through trials. A better prayer is to ask God to prepare my children for the acts of service he has prepared for them to do. That prayer may lead to the child learning the benefit of endurance. God may desire my children to love the bully on the bus and use that love to break the cycle of violence and hurt. It isn’t the easy way. But it is the way of greatest benefit to the kingdom.

You see: “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Jesus’ ministry shows us the heart and mind of God. Jesus habitually and masterfully looked past appearance and saw hearts. He touched the lepers everyone avoided because he saw a need for affection. He spoke to tax collectors and the adulterous woman at the well, those others shunned as outwardly sinful and dirty. But Jesus criticized the Pharisees and religious leaders who looked good because they cared about appearances instead of souls.

When the disciples came to Jesus with, “Lord, teach us to pray,” notice what Jesus included. He said to pray that God’s name is held in the highest honor, his kingdom is the rule of our hearts, we live in accordance to God’s will, and that God provide our daily needs. He taught us to ask for forgiveness and to be protected from temptation and evil and remember who sits on the throne. 

Besides this we can confidently pray:

  • for wisdom to do things God’s way
  • to love those who are hard to love
  • for humility
  • for workers in God’s kingdom
  • that worldly possessions do not snuff out zeal for God’s kingdom

It appears (sadly) there is no prayer in Scripture for good-looking hair (though Jesus did tell us God knows every hair on our heads. The first chapter of Daniel makes it clear God gave Daniel all the traits (including good looks) he would need for the purpose he had in mind for him.

On that Saturday in April, God thought it wise to help me speak rather than look great. With hymn writer Robert Robertson, who apprenticed as a hair dresser, I plea, “Tune my heart to sing thy praise” and to be concerned with hearts and not appearances.  

Amber Albee Swenson has authored four books, writes an occasional devotional blog, and is a regular contributor to several Christian organizations. In 2011 she started speaking to women with the intent of bringing the Bible to life in tangible, applicable ways.


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