He Loves Me … He Loves Me Not
by Sam Williamson
A friend of mine used to begin every prayer:
“Father, I love you.” When I first heard him, I
thought it was cool. After a couple years,
something began to seem strange. I liked that he
loved God, but his inflexible, unwavering, rigid
preface to every prayer felt weird.
I wanted to ask him why he started prayer with
those exact words, but he was also an irritable
person. If anyone (especially his wife) ever
questioned him, he blew up, or else he clammed up,
and he said he needed to be somewhere else
(probably anywhere else).
And his hyper-sensitivity was my problem. It
seemed he loved his reputation most of all. Maybe
he should have started his prayer, “Father, I love
my name.” I finally asked him about his prayer
routine, and I suggested he change it and begin
each prayer, “Father, You love me.”
He called me the next morning and said, “I just
can’t do it. It seems so presumptuous or pushy. Or
rude.” He said, “It’s easier to say, ‘I love you’
than to say, ‘You love me.’ Especially to GOD!”
He suggested I try his approach for a week, that I
begin every prayer, “I love you.”
You Shall Love the
My family is a hugging family. We express our
affection. We hug hello and goodbye. We say we
love each other. It’s easy, affirming, and
community building. So my friend and I agreed to
try each other’s idea. I’d begin each prayer, “I
love you” and he’d begin, “You love me.”
But as I started each prayer, “Father, I love
you,” it seemed like I was giving reasons to God
why he should listen to me; after all, I loved him
so very much. Sort of like the Pharisee who
begins his prayer, “I thank you, God, that I’m not
like other people, cheaters, sinners, or like this
Instead of praising God, I was applauding my own
A man I met on a retreat once told me the whole
gospel could be summed up in one sentence: Love
the Lord your God with all your heart, mind,
soul, and strength. But he’s wrong. That
isn’t the gospel. It’s the Law. Don’t get me
wrong, we should love the Lord completely,
but if that command was the gospel, we would be
lost. Because we fail every hour.
I began to pray, “Father, I want to love you, but
I flunk. I love my name, I love my comfort, and I
love success more. Please help my un-love like the
man who said, ‘I believe, help my unbelief.’”
I could pray that prayer more honestly. (And
honesty is a good place to start when praying.)
A week later, my friend called me, excited. He
said, “I love beginning with God’s love! It’s like
repeating the verse, ‘We love because he first
loved us.’” He said that remembering God’s love
first began to grow his own love of the Father.
When he prayed, “You love me,” he almost always
also remembered a time he was irritated by
someone’s (especially his wife’s) correction.
He said, “God knew of that bitterness before he
ever loved me. If he loved this ego-centric,
super-sensitive me, then he must really
love me. It sort of makes me love Him more.”
He asked me if I had ever tried my own suggestion
for him, to begin each prayer, “Father, You
love me.”. Honestly, I had never even
thought of starting prayer that way until I
noticed my friend’s routine beginning. And I had
never done it myself.
He encouraged me to try it. He said that it
actually gave God more glory than his own,
self-serving approach. He said it’s more biblical,
because Scripture is all about God’s love for us,
not our love for him.
So I tried it: “Father, You love me!” For a week.
And I just couldn’t do it; it felt so …
presumptuous. I can say in my head that he loves
me, but in my heart, I doubt.
Sometimes my “wise” advice for others is really
God pointing out my own weakness.
Sam Williamson has published
numerous articles and has written two books.
He has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com,
and can be reached at
God in Conversation: How to Recognize
His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C.
Williamson, published by Kregel
Publications, 2016, available from Amazon
photo: back view of couple
from BigStock.com Photo ID: 310911070
Copyright: Aaron Amat