We all remember the stunning "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Every time I hear it, I am caught up in the passion and detail of that great man's vision. His dream of a prejudice-free America wasn't just some vague idea he'd thought up that morning over a cup of coffee. You could tell he'd nurtured that vision in his heart for a long time. He could describe it in rich detail. He saw it clearly in his mind’s eye. He could taste it as if it were already here. The power of that vision fueled his life, and directed his choices. The results speak for themselves. Our world is different because of his influence.


Dr. King knew something powerful about dreaming—and his example can serve us as an effective guide in pursuing dreams in our own lives. It's a simple technique I call "visioning." And it is the single most important thing you can do to move you toward achieving your own life goals. (No kidding.) Here's how it works:


1. Name your goal—and be specific. Just saying, "I want to lose weight," or "I want to fall in love" isn't really a goal. It's a wish. A goal would be "I will lose 30 pounds," or "I will have a healthy, loving relationship with a mature, fun-loving Christian man (or woman)." Notice there aren’t any deadlines on these goals. That’s intentional. You will add a deadline later, but at this stage, it's better to leave them off. Just name what you want as clearly and succinctly as you can.


2. Change your goal into a present-tense statement of fact. For example, the goals above would become "I am 30 pounds lighter," or "I have a healthy, intimate, loving relationship with a mature, fun-loving Christian man (or woman)." This in now your anchor statement for what comes next.


3. Create a present-tense vision of your dream. Imagine yourself in the future when your goal is already achieved. Write a description of your life in that future place. What are you doing? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are the dominant feelings you're experiencing? As in Step 2, create your vision in the present tense. Use statements that begin with "I am," "I have," "I see," and "I feel." Explore the vision through each of your five senses to create a three-dimensional snapshot of your future life.


4. After your present-tense description, write a succinct response to this question: In this new reality, what is the overall message your life is communicating to the world? For example, in the first goal (losing 30 pounds), your message might be something like, "I am healthy, strong and full of energy." Choose whatever statement resonates most powerfully for you.


5. Now, put it all together: First, the goal, re-crafted into a present-tense statement of fact; next, your present-tense vision; and finally, the message your new life is conveying to the world. All together, this is your Visioning Statement.


Once your Visioning Statement is complete, spend time every morning prayerfully meditating on the vision, consciously reconnecting to the feeling and experience of it. Use your imagination to put yourself into the vision. Once you’re there, invite God into the process, and ask Him to speak to you about your vision.

Is there a way He wants to refine it, to change it, to make it bigger and more fulfilling? Give God access to your dream, and open your desire completely to Him. If you feel Him nudging you to shift or change your vision, do so.

But don’t be surprised if you sense His Spirit fully supporting you in your dream. After all, He’s the one who designed your heart to have these dreams in the first place. And as we purposefully delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4).