“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:13-15).
Have you noticed that we tend to pray about the things that are most important to us? Although we may not realize it, our requests typically line up with our purposes in life. If we think that life is about family, then the matters of prayer will relate to the relationships in the family. If success or personal peace and comfort make us feel happy, then prayers will generally be requests that we hope will produce those results. It’s not uncommon for children to pray, “God, please give me a good day.” Usually that means they are asking for God to make everything happy and comfortable from their perspective. I’m not suggesting that this is wrong, for Scriptures tell us to cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). However, there is a prayer focus that we can be assured gets God’s attention.
As I read through John 14-16 recently, I was struck by the fact that four times Jesus linked praying in His name with obeying His command to love one another and to bear fruit (John 14:13-15; 15:7-10; 16-17; 16:25-28). One take away from these scripture passages seems clear: if you intend to love in Jesus’ name, you will pray intentionally for grace to love. That’s why I started praying what I call the “live to love” prayer each morning a few years ago.
Father in heaven, thank You for another day of life to live to know and love You and to love with Jesus. Anoint and fill me with the Holy Spirit, the presence and power of Christ, so that I can love and trust You and love those You put in my path today, for Your glory.
The following is an excerpt from my book, Live to Love: Experience Freedom and Joy in Relationships. I’ve found that it’s important to not only pray this prayer, but to let each phrase search my heart and guide me to have a personal conversation with the Lord as I begin my day. Some of the phrases are repetitive on purpose. I have a couple of reasons for writing the prayer as I have. The first is that I want each phrase to stand distinctively on its own in my mind and to serve its purpose in my spirit. The second is that I want to think carefully about each element and not lose sight of it.
I think you’ll understand as you read the next sections that explain each phrase. Nevertheless, you should feel free to let the Holy Spirit guide you in adjusting the prayer to speak most powerfully to your heart about the elements it contains. Let’s think through the Live to Love seed prayer. [This month, we’ll consider the two phrases of the prayer.]
Father in heaven, thank You for another day of life …
I like to pray as soon as I wake up and am alert enough to recognize God’s presence. Expressing thanks to our Father in heaven for another day of life acknowledges that He is the source of life, which is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). It starts the day off focusing on things above rather than on the earth. God’s Word also says that our loving Father sets the course of our lives (Heb. 12:1) and this is a great comfort each morning. We can be confident that God will hear and help us when we begin our day looking to Him for help to do the very things for which we were created and saved. Recognizing where our lives come from each day gives us the proper perspective for knowing God and living to love with Jesus. Looking to God as the source for everything, enables us to acknowledge His purpose and calling on our lives.
… to live to know and love You and to love with Jesus.
After we thank our Father for another day of life, our hearts need to be reminded that He has a purpose for calling us to be His children. Because sin makes us selfish and earth-bound, we have many reminders in the Scriptures of our purpose. We are here to know God and glorify Him as we experience the eternal life He has given us in Jesus. Jesus clearly described eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). We live because Jesus lives. Our Father has raised us with Jesus to life that will never end, and He’s given us the ability to know Him through Jesus, who lives in us. This is our incredible purpose!
As we think about this each morning, we should anticipate that all things we encounter in our day, both circumstances and people, are agents that God will use to help us know Him better. Although we don’t know all of God’s intentions behind our circumstances, we can acknowledge in faith that He administrates them all with the purpose of revealing Himself to us so that we can know Him more intimately and experience His love and presence. This daily prayer counters our natural thinking that the purpose of our lives is to serve ourselves and achieve personal happiness and affluence. The Live to Love prayer helps us remember that God calls us to share Jesus’ life and to walk with Him, knowing and loving our Father as He does, learning to listen to our Father, and fulfilling His will. As we pray in this way, we’re reminding ourselves and acknowledging to God that we are living, breathing, eating, working, praying, serving, and loving to know Him more intimately in every circumstance of life so that we might trust Him more fully and experience the abundant life He intends for us.
As these truths sink deeper into us, we see more clearly who and what God is—He is love. The more we know Him, the more we’ll want to give Him what most pleases Him, and that is trust. Hebrews 11:6 states that faith pleases God and gains His approval. Trust is what humility and faith look like in action. When we believe that everything we have comes from God, and we trust God’s purposes and plans for our lives, we enter a rest that is supernatural and belongs only to His children. It’s a sweet spot where true freedom and joy grow for the glory of God.
I have dear friends, Jerry and Gerrie White, whose home and most of their belongings were destroyed in a flood. They had to flee their home as the flood waters were rising. A friend came and picked them up in his truck. They knew as they left that several feet of water would invade their home. They thought they could circumvent the area of destruction by taking the interstate east, away from the river; however, they got caught between flooded streams, which blocked the interstate in both directions. As they pulled onto the interstate, the first part of Hebrews 11:6 came to Jerry’s mind, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Jerry purposed in his heart that he would trust God through the storm, no matter what would happen, because of his desire to please his Father. For 36 hours they were stranded in bumper-to-bumper traffic, having no food, water, access to restrooms, or means of communication. With those Scripture encouragements, from that moment on, God’s grace carried my friends through what became a year-long recovery process. With every new testing, the question would come clearly to his mind, “Will you trust Me with this?” As they persisted in their reliance on Him, God continued to supply their needs.
First, He provided food and water for them from the new “neighbors” they met on the freeway. There were other tangible provisions, but as time went on, they most appreciated the many opportunities they had to please God by trusting Him, as well as to love and be loved in one encounter after another. The greatest blessings that God provided my friends were His peace that passes understanding, an awareness of His presence, and His grace to love others along the way. I hope this story will encourage you as you fulfill His purpose and calling — to know and love God and love with Jesus.
Next month, we will look at the remaining phrases of the Live to Love prayer. I hope you will pray daily for the grace to live to love with Jesus. You can make this prayer a part of your prayer life or write your own version of the prayer that expresses your heart to obey Jesus’ command to love in His name. I would love to hear about what the Lord does in your life as you become intentional about living to love with Jesus. You can email me at [email protected].