“…As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1b, 2
A. The goal of the Christian life is not to do more, be more loving, or joyful, or obedient – or even to try and be good. The goal of the Christian life is Jesus Christ himself – to grow an intimate, passionate, dynamic relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
B. Seeking God First
The heart of our ministry is to the Lord. Everything we are, have, and do comes from our intimacy with Christ. If we aren’t proactively seeking him to find out who he is and what he’s doing, we labor in vain. Seeking God in worship and prayer is the most vital thing we do.
Only God can meet our deepest needs. If we aren’t seeking him consistently (as a lifestyle), making time to seek him regularly, we’ll begin to look to others to meet our needs, and eventually be frustrated. (Contemporary idolatry: looking for ultimate joy and satisfaction in anything other other than God.)
C. Personal Devotional Time
1. Begin the day before by getting enough sleep to be sufficiently refreshed for communing with the Lord.
2. Find a quiet and undisturbed place where you can be alone and without interruption.
3. Begin by focusing on the Lord, and inviting the Holy Spirit to come to lead you in fellowship and intimacy. You may want to use the acrostic A.C.T.S., which stands for a progression of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. (Helpful hint: Have a separate pad of paper and pen available to record “to do” list items as they come to mind. Writing them down will help you clear your mind and refocus your attention on God – and you’ll get more accomplished during the day as well!)
4. Whether you read consecutively through each book the Bible or read topically, read the Bible devotionally, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you and draw you after him (Song of Songs 1:4a). Reading 3-4 chapters a day will take you through the Bible in a year.
5. Or/and, use the Lord’s Prayer (actually the model prayer template) as a guide…
Our Father in heaven, we honor Your holy name. . .
Prayer is to begin with upward acknowledgment of God’s glory, wonder, majesty, and grace. Worship the Lord! Tell God how wonderful he is, thank him for all he has done, is doing, and will do in your life and the life of your family. Pray and sing prayers of adoration to our heavenly Father. Invite the Holy Spirit to come and teach you how to better worship the Father!
We ask that Your kingdom will come now. . .
Theologian George Ladd wrote concerning the kingdom of God that, “we live in the presence of the future.” The Christ Event (Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension) established the kingdom of God on the earth, while Christ’s Second Coming will be the consummation of the kingdom of God on earth. We have the great privilege of living between the two! Pray for his righteousness, peace, joy, and power to be manifest in your life today (Romans 14:17). Ask for his rule to be extended in, and through you, your home, your church, your city, etc.
May Your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. . .
Pray God’s revealed will back to him! In other words, pray back to God what you know to be his will. Pray for workers to be raised up for the fields which are white, for leaders of the nation, the state, for the needs of SBF; pray for the church to be filled with the presence and power of God; look up Scripture concerning prayer pray them! Pray back to God what he has shown you is his will concerning you, your family, our church. Pray for him to reveal his will in matters that are unclear to you – pray specifically. Pray for wisdom.
Give us this day our daily bread…
Petition God concerning your needs. Specifically define them, ask God for them, and trust him to provide the resources you need, giving thanks for his mercy and provision. Remember to include Jesus’ entreaty – “yet not my will, but Your will be done” (Luke 22:42).
Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sin against us…
Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal those sins that you committed, in thought, lust, attitude, in words spoken, motives of the heart, actions, lack of doing good when you knew to do it, etc. Ask for specific forgiveness for each revealed item, then give thanks that as you confess your sins God is faithful and just to forgive them! Then ask God to show you if you hold resentment or unforgiveness towards anyone. Pray for the willingness to forgive – from the heart. (Take time to meditate on the mercy and forgiveness of God, worshiping Him for the sacrifice of Christ that cleanses us.)
Don’t bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…
Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you so you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh; pray for God to guard you from the things that tempt you, and to be strong on your behalf when the enemy attacks you. Thank God that he that is in you is greater than the enemy, that you are his child, his friend, clothed in his armor, that in your weakness his strength is your resource.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen
This is not about us, this is about him.
6. Write down a verse from your reading that was especially helpful, consider it throughout the day, praying it back to God. Try to think of it often enough to have memorized it by the end of the day.
7. Stay in touch! Throughout the day talk to the Lord – casually as a friend, seeking him as you go, asking for wisdom, asking for his perspective, direction, etc. When you veer off course, ask for immediate forgiveness. Look for the Lord in the day, try to see what he’s doing and respond to his promptings, asking him to teach you as you go.
8. If you’re married, after praying alone, pray together for things you especially want to agree about: your family, children, marriage, work situation, needs of the day, etc., or just worship together. Pray for one another. Pray for healing when your spouse is sick.
9. If you have children – or if the grandkids are spending the night, have a brief prayer with them before they leave for school, or before their day begins. After dinner, take time (5-15 minutes) to read a few verses, dialoging about them (not lecturing) with the children, using relevant examples. Pray for each one before they go to sleep.