The New Year is upon us and this January, we’re changing things up by launching 2021 with 21 days of prayer!
Each day from January 11th - 31st we will be posting a short devotional with a prayer focus for the day.
Our goal is to empower you in your personal prayer life as we kick-off this new year in faith. The prayer focuses will also be accompanied by a sermon series beginning this Sunday, January 10th titled Today Matters. Though we are not gathering as usual we can all plan to have a daily time in prayer that will impact our lives throughout the year!
Day 13 | Will of God
Psalms 40:8 (NIV) “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
The word “desire” means a strong feeling of wanting something to happen.
We often have thoughts, ideas and opinions in our lives that become our desires. If we are not careful about guarding our hearts then we can end up living our lives completely driven by our desires.
King David wrote this Psalm as he cried out to God that he desired to do God’s will.
The best way to serve God is to have a desire to do His will for our lives, not our own. We can know the will of God by reading and meditating on his word.
Take a moment today and submit your will to God, asking Him to show you where you’ve had desires that are not aligned with His will.
As you pray, remember that God wants to lead you and is leading those who seek Him. Continue getting the word of God into your heart so that you can live your best life for Him!
Day 12 | A Receptive Heart
Our lives are constantly facing circumstances that require us to rely on our relationship with God through the beliefs in our heart that we've built through His word.
God wants to speak to us as we read the Bible. His word is alive so our hearts need to be ready to receive what He wants to speak to us each time we read it.
Psalms 37:31 “The Law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.”
David shows us in this verse that our hearts must be positioned with God's word in it so He can guide our steps.
As you read the Bible, how does the condition of your heart affect how you receive God's word? Jesus speaks to this in Matthew with The Parable of the Sower:
Matthew 13:1-9 “...A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seeds fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Think about the ground on which the seed falls in these verses as an analogy for your heart. When you read God's word (the seed) does your heart reflect good soil or bad soil?
God's Word is alive and if the soil of our hearts is not healthy and ready to receive, God's Word won't be able to take root in our lives.
Take time today to reflect on the condition of your heart and ask God to show you the places where the soil may be shallow, thorny, or missing altogether.
Pray that your heart would be:
Receptive, not resistant.
Open, not closed.
True, not deceived.
Pray today, believing and understanding that the condition of your heart will determine the impact of God’s word in your life.
Day 11 | Treasuring God's Word
Psalms 119:11 (NASB) “I have treasured Your word in my heart, So that I may not sin against You.”
When we say we “treasure” something, it means we place great value on it. The Psalmist said that this is to be our attitude towards the word of God, something we GREATLY treasure and value. In other words, we must consider the word of God so valuable to our lives that we give it a high priority.
What does this practically mean in our daily lives?
I used to have great intentions to read my bible at the end of my busy day. No matter my good intentions, I always found myself falling asleep within a couple of minutes!
I began to switch my bible reading to first thing in the morning with my coffee before heading out. I was fresh in the morning to receive and to study. However, putting God’s word first has looked different in every season of life.
- Pastor Leslie Varty
Treasuring God’s word means putting it in the FIRST place, however that looks for you. In 2021, let’s commit to putting God’s word first place in our lives.
Treasuring God’s word also means taking it to heart, meditating on it, not just giving it a casual read.
Psalm 119:15 (NIV) “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways”
This scripture speaks to not just reading, but to mediating. How we do this is by reading the word of God S-L-O-W-L-Y. Take the time to really read each scripture carefully; pondering its meaning to your life.
One strategy is to take one book of the bible each month this year, taking the time to mediate and review. Another way to treasure is to take notes of what you learn. Get a journal for 2021, and write down what you learn each day, and review it often.
Doing all three of these things – putting God’s word first place in your day, meditating on it slowly, and journaling what you learn – your Bible reading will truly come alive in 2021!
Day 10 | Beliefs
Everything we do in life is tied to what we believe. From the food we choose to eat to how much TV we watch to the way we let people treat us, it all comes down to the beliefs we carry within us.
Numbers 13:30 (NASB) “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will certainly prevail over it.””
Numbers 13:33 (NASB) “...we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
While Joshua and Caleb saw the world in light of their faith and had confidence in the purposes of God for their lives, the other spies were held back from receiving all that God wanted for their lives, not because of the enemies around them but because of the beliefs within them.
The world you see around you comes from the beliefs you hold inside of you.
If our beliefs do not support the change we are trying to make we can actually undermine our ability to make that change. We can not function at a higher level than we believe ourselves to be.
So how do we change our beliefs?
We must go to a higher authority! We must go to God, the highest authority, to root our beliefs in what He says is true.
Take a moment today to reflect on what you have been believing about yourself and your life. Why do you believe what you believe?
As Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Pray and ask God to show you the beliefs you’ve been holding onto that are hindering your ability to grow and change. Let the Spirit guide you in your next steps as you begin to align your beliefs with God’s word.
Day 9 | Identity
2 Peter 2:22 (NIV) “Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
When Peter talks about people acting like dogs or pigs, he is saying this because a dog or pig cannot be kept clean; they always find their way back into the mud.
The message we can take from this text is that as children of God we don't have to be like these animals. God sent his son Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for us to be clean forever. Therefore, our identity does not come from where we have messed up, fallen short, or slipped into deception or lies. Our identity comes first from our Creator.
We are children of God. When God made us He made something good. While we’ve all made mistakes, none of us are mistakes.
Even though part of our identity can come from our occupation, hobbies, family, education, etc. we must remember that these are just part of who we are, they are not everything we are.
Our true, authentic self must come from who we are in Christ.
Peter gives us such a great reminder that we are not to turn back to our old foolish ways but to run to God and He will remind us who we really are. When we are reminded of who we are it will help direct us to take the best next steps for us.
Take a moment today and ask God where you might be “returning to your vomit”, believing. From there, run to Him to be reminded of who you really are in Him.
Day 8 | You Can Overcome
Romans 7:18-19 (GWT) “I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do.”
Paul recognizes the struggle that we can face when it comes to our humanity and making right choices, but he doesn’t leave us in defeat.
Romans 8 starts by telling us that we are not condemned. Our salvation isn’t about our performance but rather God’s grace given through Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s not about what you do but what He did for you.
The scriptures then go on to talk about being led by the Holy Spirit and when we do, we overcome the impulses of our sinful nature.
Today, as in every day, you will have choices to make: Anger or Grace, Frustration or Faith, Worry or Peace.
Make it your prayer that you would intentionally live a life that is led by the Spirit so you can put to death the deeds of the sinful nature.
Day 6 | Bear Good Fruit
Colossians 1:9-12 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Prayer is meant to connect us to the power and will of God but if we are not careful, prayer can turn into a long list of requests for things we want from Him. When was the last time you asked God to fill you with the knowledge of His will?
People have all kinds of different opinions about how the world should look. We all have a bias from which we live life but as Christians we must ask God to fill us with the knowledge of His will in spite of our own. This is how we can live a life according to His will instead of our own.
It must be a priority for us, His people, to please the Lord with our lives.
How do we gage this? We must look at the consequences of our actions:
- Are people better off because of us?
- Are people attracted to Jesus by the way we talk and the way we act?
- If someone studied our lives would they want to be like us?
It is important for us to examine the fruits of our lives often; We must bear good fruit. What does ‘good fruit’ mean to you?
Remember that as this scripture says, God will strengthen you with His power! What will you do with that power?
Take a moment today to pray and ask God to reveal to you how you can grow in the knowledge of His will so that you can live a life of good fruit for Him!
Day 5 | Deliver Us
Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Every day we have multiple opportunities for temptation and the more we give into temptation the less we realize that it’s happening. The fact of that matter is we are weak, but where we are weak God is strong. If we know we are weak, we can set up structures in our lives to help us be strong!
The more we fight against our temptations the stronger we become.
One of the greatest means God has given us to help us fight against temptation is the people in our lives. Temptation is always around us, but we can ask the people God has placed in our lives to help us fight our temptations.
Part of our deliverance from the evil one is simply knowing that there is an evil one who is against us.
He doesn't want us to know how great and powerful our God is. But we cannot allow ourselves to slip into his traps. The evil one will find ways to use against us what God meant for good. But we can be delivered from him, in fact we have power over him!
Take a moment to think about areas you might be tempted in and how you can begin to build the strength to keep you from that temptation.
Take time right now to pray and ask God that he would help reveal to you and keep you from areas in your life and your heart where you have allowed temptation in.
Remember today that while there is an evil one, you have been delivered from him and have power over him!
Day 4 | Forgive Our Debts
Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Forgive us our debts.
As Jesus teaches us how to pray He reminds us that we have debts that we need forgiven.
Why do we need to ask for forgiveness? Can’t we just live our lives and know that our debts are forgiven whenever they happen?
Well, asking for forgiveness is a great reminder that we NEED forgiveness. When we pray “forgive our debts” it helps keep our heart pure and keeps us out of self-righteousness.
Jesus also reminds us that we are to forgive others who have wronged us.
Unforgiveness slips into our hearts like a tiny rock that slips into your shoe: You’re not sure when or how it got in there but it sure makes it hard to walk! Just like that tiny rock, the faster you get unforgiveness out of your heart, the easier it will be to walk unhindered again.
Repentance leads to freedom. Jesus reveals to us why this is so important a couple verses later.
Matthew 6:14–15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
When Jesus says this he’s not talking about salvation, he is talking about personal fellowship with God. If we want to stay in a close intimate relationship with God, where we hear him on a regular basis and feel his presence, we need to forgive.
Take a moment right now to ask God to reveal to you what you need to ask him forgiveness for.
Then, take a moment to forgive those who’ve wronged you. Set them free from the prison in your heart and enjoy the freedom that God intends for you.
Day 3 | Daily Bread
Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”
“Daily bread” speaks to the reality that we have needs in our life on a daily basis. These needs may in fact be as fundamental as food and shelter or some other provision that requires finances to meet the need.
Our needs are never too small or insignificant that God won’t meet them. Think of it this way, every need that you take to the Lord in prayer is an opportunity to experience God acting on your behalf. When that happens your faith grows. You get to experience God’s love and care in a practical way. It may be a small thing to you, but for these reasons, it’s a big thing to God. He loves to show His faithfulness in your life.
Because He tells us to pray, “give us this day”, means that He is looking for us to live in daily fellowship and dependence on him.
What is your “daily bread” prayer for today?
What is that thing that you need God to provide for you?
Pray for that need and then watch God’s faithfulness to meet it in your life.
Day 2 | Your Will Be Done
What a great opportunity we have to experience God’s best in our life through prayer! As we pray, we are invoking the will of God on our life.
Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The temptation when considering this prayer is that we can think of so many situations around us that need to change. We look at the circumstances and can easily point out things that we would like God to change about them. However, you should know that when the early church prayed this prayer they did so first considering themselves.
“On earth as it is in heaven” starts with you!
“Your kingdom come, your will be done” needs to happen within ourselves before it can extend to the world around us.
It’s when we apply this prayer to ourselves first that it gives us a sense of authority to pray it over other circumstances of life. How hypocritical it would be to pray for everything around you to reflect heaven while you keep things in your own life that don’t and resist change.
How might your life better display His Kingdom?
What about your life right now could use a, “Your will be done” prayer?
As you take time to reflect on this and pray, prepare your heart to be open to what the Holy Spirit might do in your life personally.
Day 1 | Praying With Expectation
Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’”
Jesus teaches us to pray by starting with a reminder for us to acknowledge who it is we are praying to: Our Father.
He is the one who created us, loves us, cares about us, and is fully aware of the needs of our lives. This statement is so important because our prayers should be founded on who God is. A correct image of God is vital to our expectations and faith.
Who you believe God is, determines what you believe God will do. Jesus made it clear to us that God is our Heavenly Father. He said, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”. That statement alone gives us clarity and insight into the character and nature of God.
James 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
We need to be reminded that as we pray, we are doing life in a relationship with the Heavenly Father who intends to do good things and provide perfect gifts in our life.
What good thing might you need in your life at this time?
Direction is a good thing.
Wisdom is a good thing.
Confidence is a good thing.
Your heavenly Father wants to do good things in your life!
What would be the perfect gift for you?
Answered prayer is a perfect gift.
Provision is a perfect gift.
Healing is a perfect gift.
Your heavenly Father knows the perfect gift that is needed for you at this time.
Let your prayers be full of expectation.
Let your prayers be full of hope and faith.
Whatever it is that is on your heart to pray for today you can have confidence that your Heavenly Father will do what is both good and perfect for the situation.