I live in a small rural community where people often burn brush, trash, and other debris that they do not want to take the time to dispose of. It is common in the summer and fall to drive past houses where dark clouds of smoke are billowing from the back...
Sometimes there is one thing you can change that will create a complete paradigm shift in the ordinary. For me, that was using scripture to focus my prayers.
What would normally start with an intentional time with God often ended up with me telling God my shopping list! I had great intentions, wanting to tell him how great he is.
But somehow, I often skipped to the part where I treated him like my own Santa Clause. I asked him for things, forgetting who he is and not caring if what I was asking for was really his will or not.
I added three simple changes to my prayer life and they have made a huge difference:
Write Down Truths
The first one is writing down scripture as I am reading the Bible. Each time I read the Bible, I will write out some scripture verses. I take one scripture from that reading and I pray using a process I learned from Kevin DeYoung: Rejoice, Repent, Request.
I take a chosen verse, and I find one way I can rejoice in it, one thing I can repent from in my life, and one request that I can find in that verse. Kevin DeYoung gives an example of this:
Right now I just flipped opened my Bible and landed at Psalm 104. Verse 1 says “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty.” How might you pray through this verse? Well, at first blush you might see nothing more to do than praise God. “Dear Lord, you are very great. You are clothed with splendor and majesty. Amen.” But try that again with the 3 R’s.
Rejoice – O Lord, you have richly blessed me more than I deserve… Repent – Forgive me for being blind to your splendor and majesty… Request – Give me eyes to see as you are. Tune my heart to sing your praise.
Choose with Intention
The second thing that has helped me is to choose one scripture to pray for a certain amount of time. This not only focuses my prayer life, but by the end of the several days, weeks, or year, I will have memorized the verse so that I may meditate upon it throughout the time:
Here are some examples:
- When I went on a mission trip, I prayed 2 Timothy 1:7: That God would not give me a spirit of fear, but give me power, love and self-discipline.
- For each of my children, I pick one verse that I pray for them for the whole year:
- For my daughter, I pray that she will know she is chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession and that she may declare the praises of Him who called her out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1Peter 2:9)
- For my boys, I have prayed this command: Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
- With Easter coming, I pray that I will be reminded of this truth: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Rely on His Promises
The last change is to look for promises that I can claim as I pray. With each promise, I know that I am praying God’s will and that His gospel will spread:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not on you won understanding
In all your ways acknowledge him
And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
I grabbed hold of these promises regarding my job and writing. And, I believe God called me to write, but I also feel called to teach and that is one way I can be a helpmate in adding to the finances of our family.
I have a long way to go when it comes to the craft of writing, but God has given me the desire of my heart in allowing me opportunities to share his gospel through writing.
I knew my prayers lined up with what God promised me in the Bible – I refused to let go. And in due time, this God-given dream came true in my life.
With each prayer, I find myself drawing closer to God. With each scripture I read, it is like a rush of life-giving breath that reminds me that I am not just on earth “doing the best I can,” but I serve a powerful God who cares deeply for me.
He is the Lord of my life. He is Lord of all. Each Truth and Promise comes from the One who loves me enough to lay down His life for me. In this knowledge, I know that my prayers are readying me for an eternity of worshipping Jesus.
The Greatest Change
And not only is my eternity secure by his life, but my daily life is transformed because of his death. I no longer have to worry about what to do or what to pray. I no longer have to think about if my past is forgiven because he has already told me my sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48).
By dying to my own desires, and praying the desire of God, I am dying to myself and living out the gospel. And that is the greatest change of all.