I Want to Love God More

Four moves in less than two years has a way of decluttering a girl’s life. At this point, stuff is pretty low on my priority list. But there’s one little treasure that always makes the cut. My sweet pup, Riff.

My dog loves me. A lot. If I’m home, he is by my side. When I leave for a while, my sister says he looks for me the whole time I’m gone. He is a one-woman dog, and I’m his woman.

True, he likes pretty much everyone. If you come over, his tail will wag, and you might even get a friendly lick on your cheek. But when the kibble hits the dog bowl, Riff will be where I am and as close to me as possible.

He’s snuggled up against my leg as I write this post. I should really give him creative cred because his warm presence is almost always part of my writing conditions.

It feels good to be someone’s favorite.

As Riff followed me from room-to-room today, the Spirit whispered to me, “Stick to Me the way Riff sticks to you. I want to be your favorite.”

I’d love to say I love the Lord the way Riff loves me, but I don’t.

I’m well described by this phrase from the old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing“:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.

True, I love God. But I spend the bulk of my breath striving and straining for the affections of people. More often than I care to admit, I leave the Lover of my Soul on the sidelines while I chase after the approval of flawed, fickle people.

On Christmas night, my family crowded into my mom’s living room for a last bit of togetherness. Every chair and couch cushion was covered with family, including my three sons. My mom’s little dog, Misty, sauntered into the room, and everyone started calling her name at once. Misty had a decision to make, and the poor girl had some trouble. She started spinning round and round looking from one set of open arms to another trying to figure out whose lap to grace. She ended up going for the closest lap rather than the lap that’s there for her day-in and day-out.

My heart’s a lot like that, but I don’t want it to be. I want to love Him most. I want to want Him more than anyone or anything else. I want to run straight to His lap without pause.

In her newest book, AudaciousBeth Moore writes of our need for a deeper love for God…an audacious love.

We’re talking about being swept up with the One who can’t tire out and you can’t run off. The One who still calls you Beautiful at your ugliest and pulls you up at your lowest. The One who doesn’t have to struggle to forgive you. The One who really does keep no record of wrongs. The One who doesn’t have to go to counseling to stay with you. We’re talking about coming alive to an honest-to-God acceptance  that we are audaciously loved and drumming up the audacity to boldly love Him back. That, I believe to my bones, would be the most important discovery of our lives. The craziest part is that it’s not hard to get. Ask for it.

I do believe I will.

Lord,

You deserve so much more love than I’ve been giving, and for that, I am deeply sorry. It feels strange to ask You to help me love You, but here I am asking.

The love You deserve is far beyond what I can muster up on my own. I need the Lover of my Soul to instruct my soul in the explosive art of audacious love.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)

I sure can’t, and I can’t fix my faulty heart either. But You know love because You are love (1 John 4:8). And You know me because You made me (Psalm 139:13).

Show me how to love You, Lord. 

Right there in red letters, my Bible quotes You saying the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30 NIV).

The man who knew You first as a big brother and then as a Savior says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV).

I come to You in confidence that You hear me and that I have this thing I ask for. No doubt, it’s Your greatest will for Your children to love You with an audacious love.

I echo the prayer Your sweet daughter Beth shares in her love book:

Give me a heart to love You more than anything I can see or touch. Grant me love for You, Jesus. This is what I want more than anything. Be the driving desire of my life.

“Teach me your way [of love], Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 NIV).

May my love for people be an overflow of a heart devoted to You first. You first, Lord. You. First.

I know this love I’m asking for is something You dole out in doses. You know I can’t handle the full measure at once. It will be a life pursuit. A growing in love. An exercise I’ll never tire of doing.

I hear You say, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 HCSB).

May my waking words be passionate prayers to love You more.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8 NIV).

Yes, Lord, my heart is prone to wander to lesser loves. But “here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal is for Thy courts above” (Come Thou Fount). I want You to be my favorite…every day and always.

In the name of Jesus, the One who loves me most, I pray with gratitude for how You’ll answer,

 AMEN

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When Your Cutting Edge Needs Sharpening

When I was young, I was a major bookworm. My mom drove me over to Shreve Memorial Library, and I checked out the maximum number of books the library law allowed and read them all well before the return date.

I still love to read, but, for some reason, I can’t get through half a chapter without falling asleep. It takes me forever to read a book now, but that’s ok. Reading books slowly gives the information time to sink in, right?

Since my word for the year is “mindful,” I decided it’s a good idea to fill my mind with as much good stuff as possible. So, I’m going to try to read more. Right now, I’m working my way through Priscilla Shirer’s Ferventwhich is a book about strategic prayer.

I say I’m working my way through it because that’s the kind of book it is. It’s not a typical page turner. It’s a battle plan, and it has me fired up.

…this is war. The fight of your life. A very real enemy has been strategizing and scheming against you, assaulting you, coming after your emotions, your mind, your man, your child, your future. In fact, he’s doing it right this second. Right where you’re sitting. Right where you are.

But I say his reign of terror stops here. Stops now. He might keep coming, but he won’t have victory anymore. Because it all starts failing when we start praying.

Shirer says we can’t “play nice” with prayer, and I agree with her. I intend to pray with more fire and fervor this year. My life depends on it. How ’bout you?

In Fervent, Priscilla Shirer challenges readers to focus on 10 areas where the enemy seems to attack the most. See if any of them ring a bell.

  1. Your passion
  2. Your focus
  3. Your identity
  4. Your family
  5. Your confidence
  6. Your calling
  7. Your purity
  8. Your rest and contentment
  9. Your heart
  10. Your relationships

Shirer guides us in writing out strategic prayers for each of these areas using the most effective weapon around: the Word of God. Oh…and she says it’s a good idea to actually pray the prayers we write out.

Over the next several weeks, I will be working my way through this list and sharing my written prayers with you. Feel free to use my prayers as a starting point for your own strategic prayers. Just think what would happen if God’s people started praying with more passion, purpose and precision for every aspect of our lives!

No more hit-or-miss praying. No more “God bless us,” generic prayers. Let’s get serious about asking God for what we need and receiving what He already offers. The prayers I’ll be sharing won’t just appear on this blog. They will appear in my prayer journal where they will be prayed and prayed again. Then, I’ll have the pleasure of recording the ways God answers in the very same journal. I don’t want to forget to pray, and I don’t want to forget His faithfulness.

The first strategic prayer category must be the starting point. Without passion, our prayer life is puny at best.

Passion is the fuel in the engine of your purpose. It’s your “want-to.” It’s what keeps you going when mundane tasks bore you or difficult ones dissuade you. Passion is what keeps you moving in the direction your best intentions want you to go.

I don’t know about you, but I have some of the best intentions in the history of intentions. Oh, the goals! Oh, the plans! Oh, the honorable pursuits! But I give up too easily. I think my passion has a slow leak, and the only thing that will fix that is the hand of God. I can’t manufacture passion. I need God to sharpen my cutting edge, so I’ll be willing to do the hard things I need to do to thrive in this life.

What about you, friend? Do you lack passion? Are you dragging yourself through this life? Is your cutting edge dull as a butter knife? I’m tired of living this way. It’s time to pray. Something tells me God’s answer will be a big fat YES (and probably a “what took you so long?).

Lord,

I’ve been trying to self-sharpen my cutting edge for a while now. It’s not working. I need Your Spirit fire in me. But first, I need You to help me shovel out some ashes.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10,12 NIV).

Give me a new heart and put a new spirit within me. Remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 26:26). A heart that skips a beat when I consider Your faithfulness. A spirit that aches to know You better.

May each new-mercy morning find me with a prayer on my lips and praise bubbling up from a heart fully convinced of Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Circumcise my heart, Lord, to love You with all my heart and all my soul, that I may live…really live (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Sharpen my cutting edge, Lord, so I can make a mark on this world for Your glory. 

In the name of the Passionate One, I pray,

AMEN

 

 

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