Prayer, Plain and Simple

But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

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“Who do you think I am, God?”

“Hey, I’m only human!”

These are the excuses we make for ourselves when we don’t feel like living up to our potential. Taking the high road and going beyond the call of duty isn’t easy, and sometimes we just get lazy. We use our humanness as an excuse for mediocrity.

Jesus calls us higher. He told us that Godliness or God-likeness is what we need to aim for.

What does this mean? What is God like? Let’s look at what God said when He introduced Himself to Israel in Exodus 34:5-7:

Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,

“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…”

David reiterated God’s characteristics in Psalm 86:5,15.

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
But you, O Lord,
are a God of compassion and mercy,
slow to get angry
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.

If we want to earnestly become the people Jesus is challenging us to become, we want these God-like characteristics to be manifesting in our hearts every day. Let’s break some of these characteristics down:

God is compassionate.
To be compassionate, we need to listen to people. This involves being a person not driven to talking too much; instead we listen, then respond with empathy.

God is merciful.
God isn’t judging and angry. He shows mercy. Mercy is called for when someone deserves punishment. So when we show mercy, we are dealing with someone who is undeserving. Jesus made it clear that it’s easy to give love to those who are lovable. It’s when people wrong us and we still love them, we still show them mercy, that’s when we are behaving in a God-like manner.

God is slow to get angry.
People with transformed lives aren’t easily rattled by things. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love isn’t touchy. You can’t really irritate a loving person. It takes a great deal to get godly people flustered.

God is filled with faithful love.
People who look like God are true to their loved ones. They aren’t comparing them to others. Their love doesn’t grow cold or get distracted.

God is good.
Growing in our godliness means that true goodness will be the essence of our character. We don’t do anything contrary to goodness – not the slightest cheat on our taxes, nor the whitest of white lies leaves our lips. When we are distilled down to the core, goodness is there. Perhaps when we are cremated, even our ashes will be good fertilizer for the ground.

God is ready and willing to forgive.
Godly people wake up ready to forgive little offenses, willing to overlook things that aren’t worthy of the time, effort and distraction that strife creates.

God is waiting to give to all in need.
Waking up each day asking God to use me to give to others in need is a wonderful way to lead a godly life.

Ready to take steps toward godliness in your life? Make this plain and simple declaration, the declaration God made about Himself. These are words of faith! We are instructed to use our words to create reality by calling those things which are not as though they are. We aren’t godly yet, but let’s declare that we are well on the way:

Father,

I thank You that You are making me like You! With Your help I am becoming a person of compassion, open-hearted and open-handed to the needs of those around me. You, Lord, are creating me to be a merciful person. Thank You, Lord, that You are ridding my life of anger issues. You are causing me to become a person of quiet patience, unruffled by circumstances that disappoint me, full of faith in my God to deliver me from every attack that comes my way.

Thank You, Lord, for filling my heart to overflowing with Your love so that it spills out on everyone around me! Thank You for making me faithful to those I am committed to.

You, Lord, are reflecting Your goodness into the heart of my soul. I am becoming a true and good-natured person. I stand ready to forgive anyone who cuts me off, offends me, ignores me, or does me wrong.

I fill myself with the truth of Your Word so that love just oozes out of me to anyone who comes across my path. I declare this to be so, and I thank You that You are working in me today to transform me into Your image.

In Jesus’ Name
Amen!

 

 

 

Photo credit: Steve Corey via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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