I know what you’re thinking: So many things to pray for and so little time.
Perhaps you’ve kept a prayer journal, prayed for certain people or situations on certain days of the week, or maybe you’ve given up altogether feeling overwhelmed and thinking, “God knows it all anyway, so why should I pray?”
God commands you and I to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He wants you to pour out your heart to Him (Psalm 62:8). His desire is to not only work through the prayers of His people, but to see your delight in how your God always comes through.
Prayer is not just to satisfy the heart of God, though. Prayer changes us, molds us, makes us more dependent on God, and transforms us into the likeness of Jesus.
Here are three simple and powerful things to pray for each day to keep your eyes and heart focused on God’s kingdom.
- “Your will today, God, not mine.”
It’s natural to pray “God help me.” Or “God help my loved ones.” And while there is nothing wrong with praying that, when we focus on who God is, we can know, without a doubt, that He can care for all the other things that concern us.
Jesus instructed His followers to pray “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, NASB). And in the garden, shortly before His arrest and sacrificial death on our behalf, He prayed: “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB).
God’s will is that we be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), that we stand apart as pure and holy, blameless in this crooked generation (Philippians 2:15), and that we act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8). God’s will is that we seize the divine appointments He brings our way to share His love with others.
When we daily pray for God’s will and glory, not our own, it causes us to look for ways to glorify Him, to call attention to His goodness and faithfulness, to seize opportunities for worship. That not only keeps Him on the throne of our lives, instead of ourselves, but it gives us an eternal mindset so we remember our command in Colossians 3:2-3 to: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
2. “Lord, give me a longing for heaven.”
I have found that when I’m not longing for heaven it’s because I’m too comfortable here on earth. I’ve been distracted by temporary false loves, rather than keeping my eyes on my eternal First Love, Jesus. When I fail to pray “Lord, give me a longing for heaven,” I start trying to find satisfaction here on earth, where my soul was never made to be satisfied with lesser things.
When you and I pray “Lord give me a longing for heaven” it’s another way of saying “Help me to long for You, being in Your presence, worshipping You without interruption. For Only You bring true satisfaction and fulfillment.” David prayed something similar in Psalm 27:4 when he sang, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” (NASB)
Another Psalmist prayed, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26). When God becomes all we long for, we are satisfied with all we want and need.
I believe when we pray for a longing for heaven that God will “Satisfy us in the morning with [His] steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14, ESV).
3. “God, make me more like Jesus.”
God is glorified in and through us when we are transformed into the likeness of His Son. When we are Christ-like, we show the world who Jesus is. Notice I didn’t say when we tell others we are a Christian, we show the world who Jesus is. Nor did I say when we tell others how they can act like a Christian, we show the world who Jesus is. Jesus wasn’t about the rules and regulations. He was all about love.
Today many non-believers define Christians by their political views, the places and people they boycott, and the actions for which they judge others. How did that happen? Because we quit talking about Jesus and started talking more about what we believe and what we do and don’t support. Yet, Jesus said others will know His followers by their love, not by their theology or religious association or their voting records. By our love. “God, make us more like Jesus so we know how to love others.”
Jesus prayed to His Father, shortly before going to the cross “I glorified You on the earthby accomplishing the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4, NASB). What is the work He has now given us to do? Jesus said “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34, emphasis added).
Will you pray with me these three simple but powerful prayers each day?
“Lord, be glorified on this earth so others will see and worship You.”
“Lord, give me a longing for heaven so my priorities, perspective, and practices will change enough to bring more people with me when I see You one day.”
“And Lord, make me more like Jesus by helping me love others as You do so they will see Your love and know You are the One true God.”