Twice in Galatians 5 the Apostle Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) and “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). But what does that mean? Is that just ambiguous spiritual language that we’re somehow supposed to figure out on our own? If you grew up in a church or denomination that didn’t talk about what it meant to walk in the Spirit or live by the Spirit, here’s a quick beginner’s guide to get you started:
Awareness – The first part of walking in the Spirit is awareness. Making yourself aware that the Holy Spirit is inside of you. That means reminding yourself, “Holy Spirit, you’re here with me.” We pray to God, we pray to Jesus, we should have no problem praying to the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is God. So the first step is awareness, reminding yourself that the Holy Spirit is present in your life, right there in the moment with you.
Surrender – That’s the second part. When Paul says walk by the Spirit and don’t gratify the sinful desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16), he’s asking us to make a choice between doing what your flesh wants and doing what the Spirit wants, and choosing the Spirit. It’s telling the Holy Spirit, “not only do I recognize that you’re here, but I surrender to your will and will do what you want me to do.”
Obedience – This is the third and absolutely essential part. Christians make a huge mistake because we think that agreement is the same as obedience. It’s not. If someone asks you to take the trash out, either a spouse or a parent, you can agree all you want. You can know what to do. You can agree that it’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t turn into obedience until you actually do it. If you’re going to walk in the Spirit, you’re going to need to actually walk, to actually obey what the Spirit tells you to do.
Every time you find yourself walking during the day, use that as a cue to remind yourself the basics of walking in the Spirit: awareness, surrender and obedience.
Praying is good, but praying Scripture is much better. It’s asking God for things He’s already promised He would give you, it’s claiming promises that have already been made. Here are ten incredible Scriptures to pray over yourself:
Romans 8:1-2. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. You are no longer condemned. If you feel any condemnation from God, it is a lie, an accusation from the enemy. Claim your rights and remind yourself that you are free in Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:13. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. You have power over your everyday temptations. You no longer have to be the victim. Whenever you’re tempted, God has provided a way out. It’s up to you to take it.
2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! You are a new person. the old is gone, done away with, buried into death through baptism. It’s the new you now. Don’t allow the shadow of your former self to hang over you. You’re new.
Galatians 6:9. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. What you’re doing is making a difference, even if you can’t see the reward right now. Don’t give up, keep doing good, and you will reap a harvest at the proper time.
Ephesians 3:20-21. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Never stop reminding yourself that the God you serve is able to do much more than you can even ask or imagine. God is all-powerful. We serve the God who created the utter vastness of the universe with a spoken word.
Philippians 4:19. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. God has promised to meet all our needs in Christ Jesus (note that there’s a difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’). While God never promises to be Santa Clause giving us our Christmas wish lists, He does promise to meet all our needs. And He is faithful.
Colossians 1:9-10. 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. God wants us to live a life that pleases Him in every way, and as we grow in our faith and in the wisdom and understanding that comes through the Spirit, we can live a life worthy of our Savior.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. God has promised that He will continually sanctity us, that is make us holy. God will continually purify us from all unrighteousness and conform us into the image of His beautiful son Jesus. God never stops making you more and more holy.
2 Thessalonians 3:16. Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. God promises us peace, because He himself is peace. In a world filled with literally everything to worry about, we need to cling to this promise and declare to ourselves that God has promised to give us peace at all times and in every way.
2 Timothy 1:7. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. We don’t have to live lives of fear. We don’t have to live lives of defeat. We have been given a spirit of power, a spirit that loves others and a spirit that conquers our demons. Let us lay claim to that reality.
There are lots of different ways to pray, but I want to introduce a method that you probably haven’t heard of before: the football way to pray. Over the past two months (during the height of football season, not surprisingly), this has helped me balance my prayers so that I’m covering all the vital parts of prayer: thanksgiving, supplication and intercession.
Special Teams (Thanksgiving) – Special teams are the forgotten and under appreciated part of a football team, until they win or lose you the game. Blocking a field goal, returning a punt for a touchdown, or even giving you the ball on the opponent’s red zone as opposed to being backed up within your own 10 yard line can be the difference between winning and losing. Special teams is all about field position, moving the ball up and down the field before the offense even takes the field. Strong special teams makes the rest of the team much more successful.
Special teams in prayer is spending a healthy amount of time in thanksgiving. Establishing who God is and what He’s done for you. Thanking Him for how He’s blessed you in the past and reminding yourself that God already knows your future and that He’s working everything out for your good. When you establish a baseline of God’s sovereignty and God’s goodness backed up with God’s faithfulness in the past, you’ve already made huge strides in your prayer life.
Defense (Supplication) – This is the style of prayer most of us are familiar with. This is where we pray for our family, our friends, our loved ones. This is where we pray for health and protection from the evil one. And this type of prayer is needed more than ever. If you’re a believer trying to live out your faith then you’ve got a target on your back. You need to pray the armor of God over yourself and your family.
Pray for your marriage. Pray for your children. Pray for your church. Pray for your pastor. Don’t allow the enemy to defeat you. Pray defensively. Repent. Confess. Ask for forgiveness. Come under God’s protection. That’s good defense.
Offense (Intercession) – Offensive types of prayers are ones rarely seen, but I believe these are the types of prayers that God loves to answer. These prayers are ones where you pray big, bold, audacious prayers, where to move the chains up the field and take back ground from the enemy. Here are some examples of offensive prayers:
“God, do something big through me this week.”
“Bring someone into my world today that I can share the love of Jesus.”
“I pray for Jill my co-worker. She’s as far away from you as anyone I know, but if you can save Saul of Tarsus you can save Jill.”
Don’t forget to pray big, bold, earth-shaking prayers, the ones that bring the most glory to God. Special teams, defense and offense make for a successful team, and they make for a great prayer life.
As I’ve talked to people who regularly consume the Word, they speak often about how the Word guides them, how it illuminates their path, how it helps them know which way to go. I think of the verse in Psalm 119 that says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Think of life as you traveling at 100 mph in the middle of the night with no street lamps or external lights. Under your own power, you can put up parking breaks, and that’s it. Imagine how scary it would be to travel at 100 mph in the middle of the night with only parking breaks. No wonder people’s lives crash and burn so often. When we consume the Word, it’s like we’re switching on the high beams. We can see what’s in front of us, we can adjust our course before danger comes, and we know which way to turn. When you consume the Word, you receive guidance. Your path is illuminated.
A second reward is what I call spiritual food, or maybe spiritual vitality. I experience this often. When I consume the Word, something inside of me comes alive. It’s my spirit. Some of us have been spiritually dead for so long that we can’t remember what’s it’s like to feel alive on the inside. When Jesus says that “Man shall live on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” he’s talking about feeding the soul. When you consume the Word, it’s like you’re feeding your soul, and as your soul is fed, it becomes stronger and becomes alive. And I don’t know how to describe it in words, but when I consume the Word, I feel spiritually alive. That’s an incredible reason to consume the Word.
Your life can change when you consume the Word. And on top of that, there’s one incredible long-term reward that happens when you make a habit of consuming the Word: your mind is renewed. Don’t underestimate the power of this reward. Look at what Romans 12:2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
When we consume God’s Word in a regular basis, we change the way we think. And when we change the way think, we change the way we live. Imagine it. Imagine a life where you weren’t weighed down by stress and worry because you were so confident in God that you just knew he would take care of you so you didn’t have to worry.
Imagine a life without shame or guilt over past mistakes because you are so overwhelmed with God’s grace that God’s forgiveness constantly washed over you like a flood. Imagine a life where you woke up every single day knowing that today mattered, that your life had purpose, and that God created you for this moment, for this time, to do something of eternal significance.
Imagine a life where joy and love welled up inside of you so deep that it overflowed to everyone around you because you were so rooted in the joy of the Lord. Do you think that would change you at all? That’s what a renewed mind is. That’s a mind that’s been transformed because you’ve chosen to allow God’s Word to shape your reality.