What are your spiritual goals? For most Christians, it doesn’t take long in the Christian life to start setting goals. One of those goals for many Christians is to grow in their faith and to enhance their walk with God.
In the Christian life, there is an abundance of lessons to learn and activities to do. Many new Christians will learn to give the tithe, but eventually will set a goal to give above the tithe in the form of offerings for missions or special projects. Some may set goals to share their faith with a certain number of people each week while others may set a goal to read through their Bible in one year.
Development as an athlete is very similar. Athletes set goals in order to help them achieve their ultimate athletic endeavors. Olympians prepare to achieve their goal of winning medals. Baseball players seek to win the World Series. Hockey players strive to win the Stanley Cup. No matter the goal, none of those athletes show up to the competition and expect to win without preparation. An athlete’s preparation is a daily endeavor. It takes discipline to exercise routinely, eat properly, and rest sufficiently EVERY DAY in order for them to have a chance to reach their dreams.
What DREAMS do you have as a Christian? What is your vision for your own victorious Christian life? Your vision will require you to answer this question: What are you doing every day to prepare yourself to make your vision a reality?
Each day, you must prepare yourself to meet your future goals. Just like the athlete with big goals ahead of him, the real preparation comes in the daily training he undertakes. The foundation of every vision of victorious Christian living is a daily walk with God. Without this foundation, your vision can never become a reality.
One of the most memorable chapters in the entire Bible is Hebrews 11. It has affectionately been called “The Hall of Faith” because it records the testimonies of the faithful men and women of the Old Testament who lived great lives by faith. These “heroes” of the faith shine as models and mentors of victorious living for Christians today. As we think about their lives, we must also consider the admonitions preceding this amazing chapter. There are three key elements in Hebrews 10:22-25 that encourage Christians to walk with God every day.
The First Element: Draw Near!
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
The book of Hebrews reads like a sermon recorded verbatim after it was preached in a church service. The “preacher” of Hebrews urges his hearers to join with him in drawing near to God through prayer. The commandment is an echo of previous teaching (Hebrews 4:16), but is now amplified because such drawing is made possible only by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:19). When you are justified by faith in the blood of Christ, you are granted access into the very presence of God (Romans 5:1-2, 9)! If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, do so today in order to be assured of the forgiveness of your sins and of your access into the very presence of God. As this text indicates, in order to draw near to God you must do so with a “true heart in full assurance of faith.”
If you are one who desires to draw close to God, to come before His very throne of grace by entering into the holiest place of all by prayer, then you must do so fully knowing that your sins have been washed away. To pray to God is to enter into the holy presence of the King of Kings. Even if you are a Christian, you must ensure that you have a conscience that is void of offense to God and men. Confess any sins that are hindering your spiritual life. Allow the Word of God to sanctify you for fellowship with God. Present to Him a heart that has confessed its need for forgiveness, and make a commitment to live a godly live with the gracious help of Almighty God. Such an attitude of submission and dependence will cleanse you from an “evil conscience” and spiritually “wash” you with the Word of God (John 17:17; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 5:26). If you draw near to God then God will draw near to you. However, as James informs us, we must ensure that are hands are cleansed and our hearts and purified (James 4:8). We cannot be “doubled minded” by longing for the sin of the world while also reaching out to God with dirty, sinful hands. It is all too easy to draw near to God with our mouth and still keep our heart far from God (Isaiah 29:13).
With these concerns in mind, you might wonder how someone can draw near to God in prayer.
First, do not pray to IMPRESS God. The Lord loves all of His children equally. Our talents, abilities, and credentials may impress our friends and colleagues, but it doesn’t impress the Lord. He is the one who bestowed those gifts upon us; He does not grant His favor upon people who appear to be better equipped or more prepared than others. Approach God with a sense of humility and dependence for “God resisteth the proud, but given grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
Do not pray to INFORM God. Simply put, the Lord already knows our needs before we ask (Matthew 6:8). God knows the personal details of our lives, even those things which we may consider to be insignificant (Matthew 10:30-31; John 1:48). The Lord is a personal savior and a personal God. He will already be familiar with the details of your situation.
Pray to INVITE God into the situations of your life:
1. Cast your Worries (I Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22) – God is interested in hearing from your heart. He wants to know what troubles you, but presented in a manner of reverent faith and not bitter complaint. Like the Psalmist, you can exclaim that your “soul is cast down” but be sure to “remember thee [God]” as you pray (Psalm 42:6).
2. Cry after Wisdom (James 1:5; Proverbs 4:7) – Wisdom is the primary tool that we lack in our spiritual tool box, and the only way to get it is to ask for it from God. Asking for wisdom must be a daily practice. How else will you be able to apply properly the biblical knowledge at the appropriate time in a given situation? If you fail to recognize the importance of this, imagine living life without the application of wisdom. Can you imagine a life where you continually make bad decisions which hamper your family, career, and personal life? Can you imagine where your life would ultimately end up if you habitually abandon God’s wisdom? Suffice it to say, the “way of transgressors is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Without God’s wisdom, you’ll ensure that you live a “hard life.”
3. Commit your Way (Psalm 37:5) – Determine to trust God while waiting for the answer to your prayer. Keep in mind that there is never a guarantee that you will receive the thing for which you are asking, but you will always receive an answer to your prayer. David prayed that God would save the life of his child, but God allowed that child to die (II Samuel 12:18). Because he prayed, David was able to accept the answer and still live for God (II Samuel 12:19-23).
An excellent example of a prayer that incorporates all of these elements is Psalm 139. In this prayer, David extols the excellence of God’s wisdom (139:1-6), explains his worries (139:19-20), and requests God’s leadership in the way (139:23-24).
Any endeavor you determine to undertake in your life must be established on the foundation of a walk with God. The first critical element of your walk with God must be prayer. Prayer is the component of worship that draws you into the spiritual presence of God. When you draw near to God, ensure that you do so with a pure conscience by confessing any sin. Enter unhindered into God’s presence. As you fellowship with God, be sure to cast all your worries upon the Lord, cry after wisdom, and commit to your way to Him.
The second element, “hold fast,” will be explained in my next blog!