By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
God loves you, but do you love yourself? Self-love isn’t selfish. It’s simply seeing yourself the way God does: as a beloved soul. Loving yourself won’t diminish your ability to love others; it will actually help you do so. When you choose to love yourself, you welcome God’s love to flow fully through your life, empowering you to love other people. Praying is a powerful way to develop love for yourself as God’s child. Lifting up a prayer for self-love can help you raise your self-esteem and affirm who you are in Christ, with confidence.
What Is Self-Love and Is it Biblical?
From a biblical perspective, self-love is different from how it is sometimes presented in our society. Self-love doesn’t mean being overly focused on yourself to the exclusion of others. Nor does self-love mean putting yourself above others in importance. Instead, biblical self-love means accepting God’s love for you by choosing to love yourself. Since your Creator has declared you worthy of love, choosing not to love yourself involves rejecting the love of the One who made you. By deciding to love yourself as God does, you’re agreeing with God that you’re valuable. Aligning yourself with God’s perspective will help you see not just your own value, but the value of all people, since God loves everyone completely and unconditionally. True self-love doesn’t stop with you internally; it flows externally as God’s love flows through your life into the lives of other people.
Why are you worthy of love? You’re made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), you’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and God has “ordained” each day of your life even “before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). God knows all about you (Luke 12:7 says that even “the very hairs of your head are all numbered”), and with that full knowledge of you, God chooses to love you. Despite the sin in your life, God has made salvation possible for you, because of his love for you: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus has commanded us all to love ourselves and others as God loves us. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Doing what Jesus commands you to do requires being intentional about choosing the best identity – who you are in your relationship with God, versus the way others may see you. In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I share a story about meeting my favorite old movie star, Ginger Rogers, who I had idolized for her glamorous onscreen persona. Ginger shattered my illusions by telling me that her “real identity” as “a child of God” meant much more to her than her famous persona. Each of us has an identity that transcends whatever roles we play or how other people perceive us. Every one of us is made in God’s image, for a wonderful purpose.
Seeing yourself as God sees you can lead to wonder since the process enlarges your perspective. When you’re connected to God in a relationship, you’re a part of “a chosen people” who “may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). The journey you take with God out of darkness into light helps you see every situation from a greater perspective, which reveals God’s goodness at work. By centering yourself in the truth of who you are from God’s perspective and saying a prayer for self-love, you position yourself to perceive the wonder of God at work, and to share that wonderful knowledge with others who need hope.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/AntonioGuillem
3 Ways to Lift a Prayer for Self-Love
Here are 3 prayers for self-love you can pray to experience more of God’s love for you:
1. A prayer about God’s presence with you: My heavenly Father, you’ve promised to always be with me, and I know you wouldn’t want to be with me constantly if you didn’t truly love me. I’m grateful that you’re here for me in any circumstances. Please help me be more aware of your presence with me in every moment. Show me how to notice more of your work in my life. Wake me up to the wonder of what you’re doing in my soul, through the power of your Spirit living in me. Help me recognize your voice speaking to me, and to enjoy fellowship with you. I believe that the more I notice you, the more I will feel your love for me, and that will help me love myself as you do. Amen.
2. A prayer about who you are in Christ: My loving God, thank you for all the wonderful blessings you have given me through my relationship with Jesus Christ, who serves as my advocate in all situations. In Christ, I am chosen in love (Ephesians 1:4), and much more, including freedom from sin and death (Romans 8:2), protection from evil (1 John 5:18), empowerment to overcome fear (Isaiah 54:14), and an ability to enjoy peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). In Jesus’ name; amen.
3. A prayer about God’s purpose for you: God of eternal wisdom, I believe that you have a good purpose for my life. Thank you that your plans for me are for my benefit rather than for harm, designed to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I look forward to the good works that you prepared for my life (Ephesians 2:10). I trust that you will bring your good work in my soul to completion at the right time (Philippians 1:6). I’m glad that in all things – even the most challenging situations I face – you work for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to your purpose. Let me discover more about your purpose for me day by day, and help me fulfill that purpose. In the process, may I experience more of your love and come to love myself as you love me. Thank you; amen.
How to Heal from Low Self-Esteem
If you’ve struggled with low self-esteem, you can heal by regularly reminding yourself of God’s complete and unconditional love for you. The best way to do that is to communicate with God through prayer and meditation often. Plan to both talk and listen in your conversations with God. Share your thoughts and feelings honestly, and pay close attention to whatever messages God sends you. You can pray with confidence anytime and anywhere, and you can pray about everything that’s on your mind.
Ask God to heal you from the root causes of your low self-esteem – whatever they are. If certain people in your past spoke negatively about you, pray for God to heal the damage that their words did to your self-esteem. If you’re bothered by sin in your life, confess your sins to God in prayer, knowing that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Since God’s essence is love, living in relationship with God means living in love – including by loving yourself as God loves you. You can rely on that love by choosing faith over fear, 1 John 4:16-19 says: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” Saying a prayer for self-love is a powerful way to experience the wonder of your Creator’s love and let that shape your perspective, so you can love yourself as God loves you.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Aaron Amat
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.