A Daily Prayer

My dear Lord Jesus, I come to you now to be restored in you-to renew my place in you, my allegiance to you, and to receive from you all the grace and mercy I so desperately need this day. I honor you as my sovereign Lord, and I surrender every aspect of my life totally and completely to you. I give you my body as a living sacrifice; I give you my heart, soul, mind, and strength; and I give you my spirit as well.

I cover myself with your blood-my spirit, my soul, and my body. And I ask your Holy Spirit to restore my union with you, seal me in you, and guide me in this time of prayer. In all that I now pray, I include (my spouse, and/or my children, by name). Acting as their head, I bring them under my authority and covering, and I come under your authority and covering. Holy Spirit, apply to them all that I now pray on their behalf.

Dear God, holy and victorious Trinity, you alone are worthy of all my worship, my heart’s devotion, all my praise and all my trust and all the glory of my life. I worship you, bow to you, and give myself over to you in my heart’s search for life. You alone are Life, and you have become my life. I renounce all other gods, all idols, and I give you the place in my heart and in my life that you truly deserve. I confess here and now that it is all about you, God, and not about me. You are the Hero of this story, and I belong to you. Forgive me, God, for my every sin. Search me and know me and reveal to me any aspect of my life that is not pleasing to you, expose any agreements I have made, and grant me the grace of a deep and true repentance.

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and choosing me before you made the world. You are my true Father-my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sustainer, and the true end of all things, including my life. I love you; I trust you; I worship you. Thank you for proving your love for me by sending your only Son, Jesus, to be my substitute and representative. I receive him and all his life and all his work, which you ordained for me. Thank you for including me in Christ, for forgiving me my sins, for granting me his righteousness, for making me complete in him. Thank you for making me alive with Christ, raising me with him, seating me with him at your right hand, granting me his authority, and anointing me with your Holy Spirit. I receive it all with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

Jesus, thank you for coming for me, for ransoming me with your own life. I honor you as my Lord; I love you, worship you, trust you. I sincerely receive you as my redemption, and I receive all the work and triumph of your crucifixion, whereby I am cleansed from all my sin through your shed blood, my old nature is removed, my heart is circumcised unto God, and every claim being made against me is disarmed. I take my place in your cross and death, whereby I have died with you to sin and to my flesh, to the world, and to the Evil One. I am crucified with Christ, and I have crucified my flesh with all its passions and desires. I take up my cross and crucify my flesh with all its pride, unbelief, and idolatry. I put off the old man. I now bring the cross of Christ between me and all people, all spirits, all things. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse and/or children) the fullness of the work of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life. Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my new life, my holiness and sanctification, and I receive all the work and triumph of your resurrection, whereby I have been raised with you to a new life, to walk in newness of life, dead to sin and alive to God. I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. I now take my place in your resurrection, whereby I have been made alive with you, I reign in life through you. I now put on the new man in all holiness and humility, in all righteousness and purity and truth. Christ is now my life, the one who strengthens me. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse and/or my children) the fullness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

Jesus, I also sincerely receive you as my authority and rule, my ever-lasting victory over Satan and his kingdom, and I receive all the work and triumph of your ascension, whereby Satan has been judged and cast down, his rulers and authorities disarmed, all authority in heaven and on earth given to you, Jesus, and I have been given fullness in you, the Head over all. I take my place in your ascension, whereby I have been raised with you to the right hand of the Father and established with you in all authority. I bring your authority and your kingdom rule over my life, my family, my household, and my domain.

And now I bring the fullness of your work-your cross, resurrection, and ascension-against Satan, against his kingdom, and against all his emissaries and all their work warring against me and my domain. Greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. Christ has given me authority to overcome all the power of the Evil One, and I claim that authority now over and against every enemy, and I banish them in the name of Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit, apply to me (my spouse and my children) the fullness of the work of the ascension of Jesus Christ for me. I receive it with thanks and give it total claim to my life.

Holy Spirit, I sincerely receive you as my Counselor, my Comforter, my Strength, and my Guide. Thank you for sealing me in Christ. I honor you as my Lord, and I ask you to lead me into all truth, to anoint me for all of my life and walk and calling, and to lead me deeper into Jesus today. I fully open my life to you in every dimension and aspect-my body, my soul, and my spirit-choosing to be filled with you, to walk in step with you in all things. Apply to me, blessed Holy Spirit, all of the work and all of the gifts in Pentecost. Fill me afresh, blessed Holy Spirit. I receive you with thanks and give you total claim to my life (and my spouse and/or children).

Heavenly Father, thank you for granting to me every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.

I receive those blessings into my life today, and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring all those blessings into my life this day. Thank you for the blood of Jesus. Wash me once more with his blood from every sin and stain and evil device. I put on your armor-the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation. I take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and I wield these weapons against the Evil One in the power of God. I choose to pray at all times in the Spirit, to be strong in you, Lord, and in your might.

Father, thank you for your angels. I summon them in the authority of Jesus Christ and release them to war for me and my household. May they guard me at all times this day. Thank you for those who pray for me; I confess I need their prayers, and I ask you to send forth your Spirit and rouse them, unite them, raising up the full canopy of prayer and intercession for me. I call forth the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ this day throughout my home, my family, my life, and my domain. I pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, with all glory and honor and thanks to him.

AMEN

–John Eldredge

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Free Indeed

If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed —John 8:36

If there is even a trace of individual self-satisfaction left in us, it always says, “I can’t surrender,” or “I can’t be free.” But the spiritual part of our being never says “I can’t”; it simply soaks up everything around it. Our spirit hungers for more and more. It is the way we are built. We are designed with a great capacity for God, but sin, our own individuality, and wrong thinking keep us from getting to Him. God delivers us from sin— we have to deliver ourselves from our individuality. This means offering our natural life to God and sacrificing it to Him, so He may transform it into spiritual life through our obedience.

God pays no attention to our natural individuality in the development of our spiritual life. His plan runs right through our natural life. We must see to it that we aid and assist God, and not stand against Him by saying, “I can’t do that.” God will not discipline us; we must discipline ourselves. God will not bring our “arguments . . . and every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 )— we have to do it. Don’t say, “Oh, Lord, I suffer from wandering thoughts.” Don’t suffer from wandering thoughts. Stop listening to the tyranny of your individual natural life and win freedom into the spiritual life.

“If the Son makes you free . . . .” Do not substitute Savior for Son in this passage. The Savior has set us free from sin, but this is the freedom that comes from being set free from myself by the Son. It is what Paul meant in Galatians 2:20  when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ . . . .” His individuality had been broken and his spirit had been united with his Lord; not just merged into Him, but made one with Him. “. . . you shall be free indeed”— free to the very core of your being; free from the inside to the outside. We tend to rely on our own energy, instead of being energized by the power that comes from identification with Jesus.

–Oswald Chambers

Heart

I used to wonder why it was so hard to change my behavior.

Somewhere I got this notion that because I knew Jesus–and knew about him–that everything about me I didn’t like would just sort of melt away and things would be so much easier. I wouldn’t have to struggle anymore. I would no longer doubt. And when that didn’t happen, when struggles still occurred, and doubt crept around every now and then to wind itself around me and winnow its way into my soul, it was like nothing made sense anymore. And I began to find reasons why God couldn’t be real. They were everywhere, it seemed.

While my faith may have been distant, and I allowed the white noise and madness of the world to drown out Jesus, I still had the awareness of my sin. And even when I was sometimes wracked with doubt or pain, and right in the midst of self-medicating, I wanted to change. I knew somewhere in me that I needed to. I didn’t want to be the person I saw myself becoming, because I knew in my heart the man God wanted me to be.

But it was just so hard to be him. I remember praying and praying for God to help me be better; a better Christian, friend, brother–you name it. And to help me stop falling into the same patterns of thought and behavior, time and time again. But it was like Paul said:

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (Rom 7: 14-17)

I knew my behavior was sinful (many behaviors, in many ways), but every attempt I made to change on my own met with abject failure, and it seemed temptation and opportunity were at every turn. Plus, it was easier to please myself than God.

So I did. And afterward I would feel terrible, and beseech God to help me never ever do it (whatever it was) again.

what’s going on inside of me

I despise my own behavior

this only serves to confirm my suspicion

that I’m still a man in need of a savior -DC Talk

But nothing changed, and any victory I won on my own was short-lived, at best. And I knew it would be. I would wonder why God would never change my behavior, no matter how earnestly I entreated Him. It wasn’t until the past year or so, after much healing, and much prayer, that I realized why:

God does not change behavior, he changes hearts. The transforming power of Christ works from the inside out, not the outside in.

Jeff talked about that last night at church, and again this morning. Changing from the inside out. It makes a lot more sense now than it did then.

I needed to change my heart. Or rather, I needed Jesus to change it from within. I needed Him to take away not the behavior that was drawing me away from Him, but to help me understand whatever was at the root of whichever base desire I felt the need to indulge at any cost. And to defeat that desire, and whatever lies the enemy would have me believe about myself and replace them with Truth.

26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

It was this realization that just…well, shattered me. I could apply it to so many parts of my life, so many struggles. Even now I think about it.

I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you.

So, it was possible to cast off the old man. It was possible for my self-made shackles to fall away like torn paper, and to rise from them free.

Struggling with lust, or pornography, or acting out sexually? Don’t just ask God to change your behavior, and take away desire. Ask him to change your heart, to reach into it and find that Love that transcends all other types of love, and all substitutes for it. There are so many people out there reaching out for something–for anything–that will make them feel whole. Because it’s so damn hard to go through life feeling like you were torn off from the one thing that meant you were real, and loved, and…seen.

It’s been my experience–and part of my struggle–that my own struggles with these things were simply that. A search for something to fill the void–the sucking chest wound–the perceived absence of love had created in my life.

I had to ask God to fill that dark vacuum with light. With Love. And it wasn’t until He did that I began–just began–to become the person He had in mind when He made me. Without that transformation, I would not exist as the person I am today, and my life would be…different. And likely not in a good way.

The funny thing is, there are so many things to fight–so many struggles. And no time to enjoy a victory before the next battle begins…

like my struggles with eating, or diet (which remain). Why is that so damn hard to change?

Maybe because, even though I know better, what I’ve been praying for is for God to change my behavior. To take away desire. To take away my tendency to do what I don’t want to do instead of what I do.

Not to find what is lacking in my heart that causes me to eat like a Roman at a banquet, and replace it with a desire for Him.

Not to find that part within me that causes me to want to please everyone and replace it with a desire to please Him.

Not to find that place within me I retreat to when it gets hard, and dark, and cold, and to speak truth to me there.

Not to find the real me, the ME God wants me to become within the person I am right now.

I want to be that person, and I want to do those things, and I want to struggle less with certain things, and I want to see God everywhere, because he IS everywhere. But to do that, I also need to to this:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
(Proverbs 3:4)

I need to trust in the Lord with all my heart.

I need to trust the Lord with all my heart, every part of it.

I need to be changed from the inside out.

And even though when I think about all the battles ahead, it almost makes me feel like it’s too much, and I can’t go on anymore, I remind myself there is hope.