Diving Deeper into Prayer

Have you ever longed to pray more effectively and deeply for your friends and family? I pray regularly for my loved ones. I’ve noticed my prayers for them are often centered more around physical, earthly concerns than spiritual, heavenly issues. I long to pray deeper prayers for those I love, but I could sure use some help figuring out how to do it.

Not surprisingly, the Bible offers inspiring examples of prayer. One of them is Paul’s prayer for his friends at the church in Ephesus.

Paul prayed often for the Christians at Ephesus. He prayed earnestly for them, diving deeply into prayer by asking God to give his friends wisdom, revelation, knowledge, and vision. His prayer explodes with power, like fireworks in a summer sky, providing us with a roadmap to pray more effectively for ourselves and those we love.

Paul didn’t pray the Ephesians would receive physical health or a promotion at work. He didn’t pray for their marriages or parenting. Those things are important and it’s certainly appropriate to pray about them, but Paul is most concerned that the Ephesians know God. He prays God will give them, “…the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Paul prays his friends will not only know about God but will personally know Him through their own experiences.

Paul also prayed that the churches in Phillipi, Colossae, and Philemon’s home would know God better. Jesus prayed for His followers to know God: “…that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).

With so many Biblical prayers imploring God to enable his people to know Him better, shouldn’t we consider adding this request to prayers for our loved ones and our friends? Shouldn’t we pray this for ourselves?

When we pray to know God better, we are seeking Him first—before our health, jobs, or other earthly concerns. The Bible promises that if we seek God first, all other aspects of our lives fall into place.

Praying for a deeper knowledge of God invites His blessing not only our spiritual life, but our day-to-day life as well.

Will I continue to pray for the health, safety, and prosperity of my friends and family? Of course. God cares about every aspect of our lives. He is attentive to every prayer. But I will also dive deeper in prayer by asking God for a more important blessing—the blessing of knowing Him more each day.

Heavenly Father, it’s so easy for me to fall into a routine prayer for finances, health, or safety rather than praying for deeper spiritual needs. While I may not have prayed about it in the past, I truly want to know You better each day. Give me a deeper knowledge of You. Give my friends and family wisdom and revelation so their knowledge of You increases each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

God's plan

Are We Unknowingly Limiting God?

Mike Posner started walking on April 15, 2019. He left New Jersey on foot and just kept going. Six months later, he triumphantly dove into the Pacific Ocean. His dream was to become tougher by walking across America. And he did it—one step at a time.

There’s no telling how far one next step after another will take us. Probably much further than we expect. Our low expectations often set limits on how God works in our lives.

Charles Swindoll tells the story of two men ice fishing. The first man cut a hole in the ice the size of a dinner plate. The second man cut a hole the size of a Volkswagen van—and in the shape of a whale! The first man’s small expectations limited what he could catch.

So much of what we undertake lacks vision,” says Swindoll. “We cut our tiny holes in the ice and make plans to go home cold and hungry.”

What size hole have we cut in the ice? Do our low expectations limit God’s ability to work in our lives?

When Gideon was hiding in fear, God called him to fight the mighty Midianites. Gideon didn’t think he was the right man, but he went on to lead Israel to victory over their enemy. (See Judges, chapters 6-8.)

The victory didn’t happen instantly. It came through steps. Fifty-two verses and many next steps later, Gideon led his men to war and then to victory.

God saw something in Gideon that Gideon didn’t see in himself. By following God step by step, he was transformed from a timid, cowering farmer into a daring warrior and leader.

What does God see in us that we don’t see in ourselves?

Listen to this life-changing promise in 2 Corinthians 9:8: Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do.”

God is more than ready—ready to shower us with infinitely more than our greatest request, our most unbelievable dream, or our wildest imagination! I can imagine big things, wild and crazy things. Can’t you? Yet, even the most impossible thing we can imagine becomes completely doable when we trust the overwhelming, abundant grace of our God.

We may not be interested in actual ice fishing because, well…brrrr! But God is interested in seeing us cut a whale-sized hole in the ice, to look past what we think we can do, and expand our vision to what God wants to do through us. When we obediently take our next steps, God overwhelms us with every part of his great grace. And that means all limits are gone and all things are possible.

Dear God, give me faith and grace to do things for you. Expand my vision. Show me my next step. Overwhelm me with your abundant grace so I may accomplish everything you want to do through me. In the name of Jesus, amen.

God's plan

Finding God’s Vision for Our Lives

Have you ever tried to navigate around a strange house in the dark? I have and I had bruises and a stubbed toe to prove it. Because I couldn’t see, I lost my way. With vision, I would have had no problem getting where I wanted to go.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). Other versions of the Bible say that people without vision wander astray, run wild, or stumble. Without vision, we get lost and we fall. With vision, we have purpose, direction, and guidance.

God has a perfect vision for our future. I have sometimes struggled to understand God’s vision for my life. Maybe you have, too. Sometimes we make it harder than it really is.

God doesn’t try to keep his vision a secret. A lot of what he wants us to do is plainly written in his Word. God wants us to love our families, to share what we have with people less fortunate, to be kind.

Also, God promises to direct the steps of his children: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…” (Psalm 37:23). He makes sure we don’t walk in the wrong direction: “Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

God may not announce his vision for us with lightning, thunder, and a shout. It’s more likely to come through Scripture, prayer, and a still small voice. And we may not see the plan for our entire journey. Often, we are just shown our next step.

Taking that next step is vital. It connects where we are today to the place God wants to take us in the future. It’s the process that turns the vision into future reality.

God has a vision for my life and for yours. Through prayer, reading the Bible, and taking steps of obedience, we can live out his vision for our lives. I pray God will open our spiritual eyes to see his vision and give us courage to take our next steps.

Heavenly Father, I need your direction in my life. Give me a vision of your love and your mighty power. Give me a vision of what you want to do in my life and show me the next step I need to take to move toward it. I ask for faith to believe that what you plan for me, you will bring to pass. In Jesus’s name, amen.