Would you say that you are living with intention? Do you abide in the fullness of Christ? If not, why? What’s in the way?
Welcome to Day 18 of our 30 Days of Prayer series. We are getting down to the final days of this wonderful series, and the meat is building up for chewing.
Living with intention is an age-old idea, but in today’s culture of hustle and bustle, it is even more important. Whole movements have occurred to work to reel in the chaos and craze of the go-go-go lifestyle so many of us have become accustomed to living.
But, it does not have to be this way.
Living with intention is a call for each of us because it is centered on the premise of a firmly planted identity principle: I know who I am because I know WHOSE I am.
Let’s dive in and investigate this concept together.
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30 Days of Prayer: Pray to Begin Living with Intention
Living with intention does not always come naturally to us a lot of the time. Most of us have become accustomed to turning off the little voice inside of ourselves that offer guidance and wisdom. It is time to turn up the volume.
In order to do so, we actually need to flip the internal switch on the noise. And, truly, friends, we have a LOT of noise today. The noise comes in the way of the constant stream of ideas, opinions, activities, and entertainment that pummels us from moment to moment, no matter where we go.
I mean, we can’t even eat at a restaurant without TVs blaring in our faces now. The cacophony of noise is mighty, and truly it does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
So, it is our job to begin living with intention and take action to silence the noise.
But, how do you do that exactly?
Simple – develop a habit of self-control. I don’t mean to be overly simplistic about this, but this is the age-old concept of the Christian “disciplines.” Many of us are familiar with the fruits of the Spirit, and often these overlap. But, a Christian “discipline” (spiritual discipline) is chosen carefully by the person who is living with the intention to draw closer to the One who they love the most: Christ.
A spiritual discipline is explained here by Don Whitney, author of the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (affiliate link, which means any purchases will provide me with a small commission – thank you in advance), as:
“…those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”
In today’s world, sadly, for a Christian to be “disciplined,” as in guided by a lifestyle of intentionality and spiritual growth, is almost laughable. We have strayed very far from the ancient path that heavily promotes living with intention.
However, it is never too late to return to the original root of our clarity and cohesion.
Discipline is a practice, and we don’t glean the benefits of practice without practicing.
I am sure we all have that child who desperately wants to be better at a skill, but is unwilling to do the work required to actually become better. Truly, sweet sister, if you want to grow in your spiritual walk you must choose to begin living with intention and take action.
Just as we know that our child will not benefit from simply talking about wanting to grow and learn the skill, we will not grow and develop spiritually unless we are willing to do the work to develop the muscles of the spiritual physique.
Spiritual disciplines are the things that strengthen us in the foundation of our identity to help us to truly center on the Rock, donning our spiritual armor in preparation for the unquestionable battle that is always waging around us each day.
Living with intention means to do the things that you KNOW are undoubtedly promoted in the life of a Christian throughout scripture. And, by doing so you will inevitably experience the fruit that emerges from a firmly rooted tree planted in the soil of the Truth.
In order to begin living with intention, slow down, take action, and stand firm in Truth.
Remember, the enemy desperately wants you and me to constantly be spinning on our heels. He wants us to chase after the wrong things, trying to control everything around us, feeling like we are spinning our wheels and getting nowhere, and continually in a holding pattern of confusion, hopelessness, and despair.
These feelings are directly related to the noise of the world, and our need to turn it all off and tune it out.
Some examples of living with intention include:
- holding your tongue when you want to explode
- intentionally focusing your attention to listen to what your spouse or child is saying
- taking a moment to ask yourself how you can show love to someone in your household
- asking yourself, “what can I do to spend time with God for a few minutes right now?”
- stopping for a moment while walking to your car to take in the beauty of Creation and appreciate and praise the Creator for His Majesty
- waking up early, or scheduling time, for studying the Bible and getting wise on the Word
- choosing to hold a boundary line as a parent because long-term teaching is more important than the temporary peace that a “yes” answer would provide
- carefully selecting what words to speak and how to say them in order to intentionally speak the Truth in love
- paying attention to the thoughts that are going through your head and assessing if they are a litany of fiery darts assaulting you from the enemy, and if so, rebuking them and asserting the Truth about your identity and strength through Christ
- and, on the list goes.
I know, for me, that I often have to step away from things like Facebook and social media.
The onslaught of each person’s personal life can be very overwhelming and distracting for me. When I am focused on being too involved in the breadcrumbs of someone else’s life I have opened the door to their noise to enter into my life.
And, truly the enemy loves to work within the noise.
It is our job to take action to turn off the noise, no matter what personal loss we may experience for a time, to tune into the calm, still voice of the Almighty. He is always there, but we must attune our inner ears to hear rightly.
What does the Bible say?
Here are a few scriptures to encourage living with intention, which promotes a lifestyle of living out spiritual disciplines that are the foundation of a life of godliness. Living with intention sets the stage for us to be transformed into a closer resemblance to Christ.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” ~ 1 Cor. 9: 27
“[An elder] must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.” ~ Titus 1: 8
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” ~ 2 Tim. 1: 7
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ~ Gal. 5: 22-24
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all.” ~ Hebrews. 12: 7-8
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” ~ Heb. 12: 11
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” ~ 1 Pet. 4: 7
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” ~ Gal. 5: 16
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~ Rom. 5: 3-5
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” ~ Ps. 1: 1-3
Living with Intention Means Applying our Spiritual Identity to the Actions of our Lives
I know how tricky it can be to reel in the noise, but sometimes we just need to lean into the struggle in trust for the outcome, even before the conditions are optimal. If I am waiting for quiet to happen externally to me in order to experience peace and begin living with intention, I will be waiting forever.
Satan has no intention to provide you with optimal conditions for your spiritual growth. Make no mistake. If we want to conquer the spiritual arena, we need to take ownership of our actions.
Begin living with intention, even when it’s hard and imperfect. I assure you the fruit of the journey is well worth it.
Abba, thank you for the reminder to not delay in living with intention for Your glory and my personal walk. Help me to not grow weary in doing the good things, Abba. I deeply want to know You more. Help my walk to bear fruit for the Kingdom, and let my life be a garden of living water for others to taste and see Your goodness overflowing. May my life be a Light in this dark world so that others may find You more easily through me.
Thank You for Your constant patience with me, and for sending Your Son to cover my sins and wash them white as snow. I am utterly humbled, and ever Yours. May Your purposes be fulfilled in My life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have a blessed day, sweet sister.
And may your day be filled with the sweetness that comes from living with intention in Him.
Right on! Almost never do I hear encouragement on being spiritually disciplined and building “muscles”. I wanted to confirm you hearing from God on this subject, as the timing was impeccable. Besides my needing to hear this, my sons just happened to be memorizing Hebrews 12 this week for Bible Bowl, so I’ve been hearing those verses every day as they read them outloud.
I identified with the part about being like our children who want the skill without having to do the work.
Among other things, I want to practice looking in my children’s eyes. I’m with them all day every day and they have such lovely eyes! That’s the kind of grandma I’d like to be someday. Better start practicing now!
I’m thrilled to hear the timing was spot on with this! I am a HUGE fan of seeing the spiritual disciplines from a muscles perspective, as they surely work the same way. The physical world is merely a shadow of that which occurs in the spiritual.
Hebrews 12 is one of my favorite verse sets, and 12: 11 has ALWAYS clicked with me ever since I first heard it years ago. Thank you for writing to let me know how this spoke to you. It blesses my heart every single time. =0)