You will be able to pray with audacity when you have a personal, God-given vision.
Steven Furtick in Sun Stand Still defines personal vision as knowing what God wants to accomplish through your life. He says, “It’s just about the most powerful spiritual asset you can discover.”
Audacity flows from vision. When you know what God wants to do in your life, you will begin to glimpse how you should pray.
How can I discover a personal vision for my life?
Ask God. God does not want this to remain a mystery to you. God wants to reveal his will to you. Take that as a given.
Do the hard work of listening. Yes, listening is work. It requires effort. Too often, we ask God a question. But we do not do what it takes to listen to God. We do not change our pace of life. We do not stop…or even slow down. We do not build time for contemplation into our schedule. We do not crack open the Bible. God says we will find him when we seek him with all our heart (Deuteronomy. 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13). Listening can be hard work.
Ask other people. Okay, maybe not just anyone. But there are people in your life who can be trusted spiritual advisors. People who know you and love you. People who have seen you at work. They know what revs your engines and what dampens your spirits.
Look for intersections of passion and productivity. That is your sweet spot. How has God wired you? What are your passions, likes, dislikes? Where are you successful? Philippians 2:13 says that “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” God gifts you to be successful in certain activities. And God crafts your heart…your desires. Forget the nutty idea that doing God’s will makes you miserable. Just the opposite. When you find your sweet spot, you will love it. Look for places in your life where there are intersections between what you love and what you can do well.
Feel free to comment on your personal vision. Have you found it? Do you think it is necessary? Can you pray audaciously without it? Other suggestions on how to discover your vision?
Quite a few years ago, my younger and more naive self, found a prayer by Jim Elliot. It said:
“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
It sounded like such a great thing to pray! It captured my heart. I had had enough irrelevance and been ignored too many times. I wanted to make a difference. So I told God that this was my desire. I made Elliot’s prayer my prayer.
I’m still glad I did but I didn’t realize what I was asking for. I found that this had made me a polarizing presence in people’s lives. Sometimes, I love it. Sometimes, I hate it.
But, that’s who I am. I have discovered about myself that I have become an agitator. I provoke people. Sometimes the only way to help people take their next step toward God is to shock them…challenge them…do something to upset their current pattern of thinking. I’m no big fan of sympathizing with bad thinking. Sometimes, pastors just try to be nice guys and supportive. I don’t do that.
I once told a guy who was trying to rationalize his extra-marital affair that I thought he was the stupidest guy I had ever met. I know. It doesn’t sound Christlike. And it may not be. In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to say. Later, I wondered…
I do think Jesus challenged people. Maybe he even provoked them. But I know myself well enough to know that I’m not always being Jesus. Sometimes, it’s just fun to tweak people.
So, submitted for your consideration: is it possible to be too nice to people? Do we support people in their bad thinking and bad behavior because we don’t want to risk losing a relationship? Can it be Christlike to provoke? Is making people uncomfortable…or even angry…always a bad thing? Have you ever wanted to be a fork in someone’s road rather than a billboard along the way?