God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future. As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.
Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past. The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses. It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).
Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God. In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.
When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it. Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.
Here’s a great principle of prayer: You can do a great deal for people after you pray for them but little of lasting value until you pray for them.
I don’t think I need to argue about the value of praying for your spouse, kids, and friends. But sometimes in our busy culture it’s tough to clear your mind and get started. So let’s look to a man who knew the value of prayer. The apostle Paul begins many of his letters with a helpful pattern.
If you look at his letter to the Philippians, for instance, you’ll see it begins with a blessing of grace and peace. Grace is the reason for our salvation and peace is the result. Paul then gives thanks for the Philippian believers. Cherish the work that God’s doing in and through others. Next Paul makes requests to aid the spiritual growth of his friends. He wants them to grow in their love, knowledge, and understanding of Christ. Last, Paul prays that they’d behave in a manner that honors God in light of coming judgment. This isn’t a fear tactic but a reminder to live for the ultimate goal of heaven, not the short-term rewards of comfort and pleasure.
God loves it when we come to him in prayer. Will you select one person that God has placed on your heart, and write a prayer for them? For help, look to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Spiritual growth is all about being transformed into the person God envisions you to be. Confessing your sin and shortcomings is a part of this process of transformation. Whenever you confess your sin and shortcomings’your anger, lust, addiction, selfishness’whatever it is’you can have full confidence that God will forgive you, give you the power to change, and transform your life.
The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes’ (Ephesians 1:4). God desires to make you holy’that is, to form his character in you. Looking through the eyes of love, he already sees you as you will look when his work is done. Spiritual renewal is the process of correcting your life to match what God envisions it to be. The Bible tells us God’s discipline is always right and good because it means we will share in his holiness. It is God’s will for you to be made holy.
When you ask God to develop such holiness in you, he eagerly responds to your request. The apostle John wrote, ‘And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for’ (1 John 5:14-15).