Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Roger Barrier's book, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, (Xulon Press, 2011).
God listens carefully to all of your prayers, but you usually can’t predict how He will choose to answer them. There is one prayer that God always answers “yes” to, though: praying for spiritual growth.
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Since spiritual growth always reflects God’s will for you, you can count on God helping you when you let Him know that you’re willing to pursue spiritual growth at any price. Your willingness to do whatever it takes to become more spiritually mature invites God to work in your life in powerful ways.
Here’s how you can pray for spiritual growth and work with God to mature in your faith:
Recognize the three different levels of spiritual maturity. Christians start as spiritual children, getting acquainted with Jesus as their Savior but not yet developing much of His character. Then Christians progress to spiritual young men and women who are growing in their knowledge of Jesus and the Bible. Finally, Christians mature into spiritual mothers and fathers, who have developed intimate friendships with Jesus and have learned how to live in ways that help them fulfill His purposes for their lives.
Pray for the passion you need to devote yourself wholeheartedly to Jesus. Ask God to spark passion within you to set you on fire for pursuing spiritual growth. Make your relationship with Jesus your top priority in life, basing all of your decisions on it. As you do, you’ll gradually get to know Jesus more, which will cause you fall in love with Him more and motivate you to keep growing closer to Him. Keep in mind that God’s ultimate goal for your spiritual growth is for you to become more like Jesus.
Pray for the wisdom you need to follow the right path. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind regularly so you can think about everything from God’s perspective, which will empower you to avoid wrong religious paths and focus on the right path that leads you closer to Jesus. Learn how to test spirits to discern which are from God and which aren’t, to guard against falling prey to evil deception that counters biblical truth.
Pray for friends to accompany you on the journey. Ask God to connect you with some good friends who are also pursuing spiritual growth so you all can encourage and support each other.
Learn how to apply biblical truth to your life. Read, study, and meditate on the Bible’s words often to get to know it well and absorb its truths into your soul. Practice applying what it says in the various situations you encounter – focusing especially on trusting in God’s grace rather than your own efforts to be righteous, valuing God over what the world offers (such as money), choosing faith over fear, and learning to love in deeper ways.
Practice spiritual disciplines. Practicing spiritual disciplines will help you consistently reduce the amount of selfishness in your attitudes and actions while increasing the amount of holiness in your life. Spiritual disciplines to pursue include: celebration, community, confession, fasting, fellowship, guidance, meditation, prayer, simplicity, service, solitude, study, submission, and worship.
Discover how the brokenness in your life can put Jesus on display. You’ll inevitably encounter suffering in this fallen world, but God will use it to accomplish good purposes in your life. View suffering through the lens of a biblical worldview so you can see that it’s not God’s fault and you’ll be able to trust that God has people’s best interests in mind at all times and in all situations. As suffering causes brokenness in your life, invite God to use it as a sculptor would, to chip away at your selfishness and reveal more of Jesus in your soul.
Offer every part of your life to God. Don’t withhold any part of your life from God; invite Him to transform every part of it – from your relationships to your work. Then expect God to do something great through your life.
Grow in purity so you can hear from God more clearly. The more spiritually pure you become, the better you’ll be able to recognize God speaking to you and receive His messages to you. So make a habit of confessing and repenting of your sins, accepting God’s forgiveness and grace to do better, making faithful lifestyle choices (such as intentionally avoiding situations that tempt you to sin), choosing never to violate your conscience, and always responding to the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to say or do something.
Listen for God’s voice carefully. Whenever you sense that you may be getting a message from God, carefully consider whether it’s truly from God, or whether it’s from your own mind or even from Satan trying to deceive you. Remember that: God speaks in your spirit, but other voices speak in your mind; God often speaks gently to you, while other voices tend to forcefully demand something from you; God’s messages produce freedom, but other messages can produce bondage in your life; God usually speaks when you’re seeking Him, while other voices often speak by intruding with sudden thoughts in your mind; You sense that all is under control when God speaks, but you often feel out of control when other voices speak; God’s guidance is clear, while other guidance leads to confusion; God convicts you about specific sins, but other voices make you feel guilty in vague, general ways; God speaks truth that can be tested and verified in the Bible, while Satan twists biblical truth to try to deceive; God’s messages lead to peace, but messages that aren’t actually from Him won’t lead to peace.
Help other people grow spiritually. After you’ve grown to spiritual maturity, you’ll naturally want what God wants – to reach out to others who need to connect with Him through Jesus. God’s love will flow through you to other people, empowering you to evangelize and disciple them as God leads. Regularly ask God to give you fresh compassion for lost people, and to help you discern who to reach out to and how to do so.
Adapted from Got Guts? Get Godly!: Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, copyright 2011 by Dr. Roger Barrier with Brianna Barrier Engeler. Published by Xulon Press, Longwood, Fl., www.xulonpress.com.
Dr. Roger Barrier serves as senior teaching pastor at Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona, a megachurch known for its multi-generational ministry, where he has worked throughout his 35-year career. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. He partners with Intimate Life Ministries and also regularly teaches national leaders for Campus Crusade for Christ and various other mission organizations. Dr. Barrier began preaching at the age of 13, and he shares his more than 3,000 sermons with you on the popular website, www.PreachitTeachit.org. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: September 6, 2011