Way of Life – Introduction
What if everything we do and say was a prayer? Would that change our thoughts, words, and actions?
In essence – it is. Everything we say or do is either a blessing or a curse.
“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
As we strive to live Christ-filled and Christ-guided lives, more and more, it becomes our way of life. And, the more it becomes our Way of Life, the more peaceful and joy-filled our life becomes; and the more beautiful the world around us becomes. As we discussed last week, our faith, our “Christianity,” must be more than simply a faith or belief. We must allow it to permeate every aspect of our lives. Our faith, indeed, this Way of Life, literally changes us. It transforms our thoughts, our words, our actions. It also changes our perceptions of, and how we respond to, the world around us.
When we embark on the Christian journey, we will, at times, struggle and stumble. That’s okay. We’re not expected to be perfect. But, adopting this Way of Life should create in us the desire to change. And we should be passionate about that change. The more passionate we become, the more living our faith becomes a Way of Life. Oftentimes, we don’t even have to think about it – we just automatically think, act, and behave in ways that demonstrate our deep, abiding faith in Him, and our relationship with Him.
Last week we talked about being mindful of our thoughts, words, and actions in regards to anger, jealousy, greed, rudeness, unkindness, unforgiveness, etc. And, we spoke of the importance of being kind, generous, loving, forgiving, etc. There’s something else we can do to let our faith change us so that it becomes our Way of Life. That something is Pray.
Praying for specific things, or for changes we’d like to see take place in the world around us is important. But, I’m talking today about a different type of prayer. I’m talking about living our lives as if absolutely everything we think, say, or do is a prayer. The more we focus on that which is loving, good, and beautiful, the more love, goodness, and beauty we’ll experience. And, the more we put this Way of Life into practice, the more it becomes a habit.
The more habitual it becomes, the more our life is transformed. And the more our life is transformed, the closer to God, our ultimate destiny, we become.
Prayer Through Affirmations
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul said, “pray without ceasing.”
More and more frequently, people say to me, “You’re always so [calm, happy, at peace, etc.]…how do you do it?”
Now, the Lord knows, I still have my moments. I struggle, as some of you can attest. I have to say, though, that I’m glad that others see the transformation that Christ has made in my life. How? By making a conscious choice to let Him transform me, to change my outlook and my choices.
One of the ways is by constantly affirming good. This is a lesson I started to learn from my father. While I was growing up, when Dad was asked, “How are you,” he would respond with something like, “Well…not as good as some, but better than most.” As he, and I, got older, his answer changed to a simple, “I’m wonderful!” He would proclaim it emphatically – regardless of what was going on in his life. Even while he was undergoing cancer treatment, if I asked, “How are you doing, Pop?,” he would answer, “I’m Wonderful!”
I’ve learned to respond the same way. I generally respond with Wonderful, Fabulous, Fantastic, Joyful, or Blessed. I don’t have just one set answer, I mix it up. But, with that affirmation, I am claiming, and proclaiming, my good. I am affirming God at work in my life. It changes my perception of outside circumstances, and allows me the opportunity to offer a blessing to others instead of cursing them. As a result, I am more relaxed, more at peace, and more in tune with my connection to God.
Simply adopting the mindset that you’re wonderful, joyful, etc. changes your outlook. It changes the way you feel, it changes the way you respond to people and challenges around you, other people notice the change, and they, in turn, are changed. Their day becomes just a little brighter, and the next person they interact with is similarly blessed. It’s a kind of pay-it-forward.
There are so many ways we can state our intentions and affirmations as prayers. Simply add, “Lord, I want…” or “Lord, I pray…” in front of the affirmation.
- Want more joy and beauty in your life? Simply state, “Lord, I want joy and beauty in my life.”
- Want to drive more peacefully? “Lord, I want to drive safely and peaceful, I want others around me to do the same, and I want to arrive relaxed and calm.”
- Want to have positive interactions? “Lord, I want to attract only those who bless and uplift me; and I want to be a blessing to them in return.”
- Faced with a less-than-desirable interaction? “Lord, no matter what happens, I want to respond and act with love and kindness.”
You get the idea. Just like developing the habit of answering, “How are you?” with, “I’m Wonderful,” let your affirmations become habit. The more you say them, the more you’ll attract what it is you desire. And, before long, all you see around you is that which you attract.
I’ve been practicing using these affirmations for several months now. It’s been amazing to witness and experience the changes in my own life. Like I said last week, I freely admit that I’m not all the way there yet. But I can honestly say my life is much more calm, and – truly beautiful. Do things still happen? Sure. Are people around me still rude or mean or unkind? Sure. The difference is how I choose to respond. When these “negative” people or events happen, they simply don’t affect me the way they used to. And, I find I’m more forgiving and loving. I can bless them on their way, instead of curse them. I no longer wish them ill or harm, or desire vengeance. As a result – Life is Good!
Prayer in Action
Just speaking our intentions, affirmations, or prayers isn’t all we can do. We can fully embrace and live a Christ-filled life by also letting our actions speak for us. In that way, or actions also become prayers. Simply put, our prayers and are actions are in sync.
We’ve all heard things like, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” or “You have to give in order to receive.” When it comes to prayer, this is also true. Our actions are living manifestations of our prayers. And, what we put out, we get back.
Want to develop financial stability? Actions could include making a budget, spending wisely, avoiding going into debt, identifying wants versus needs, and being sure to include giving in your budget.
Want better health? Actions might include eating healthier foods, exercising more and, yes, giving up unhealthy habits (this would help with financial stability, too!). And yes, I know, this is one of those areas that I, personally, need to work on.
Want better relationships? Be kind, generous, loving, and forgiving to everyone with whom you come in contact.
Want to improve your career or work environment? Regardless of what’s going on, be enthusiastic; be the best employee you can be; demonstrate joy and gratitude for the work and the income it provides.
Want a better relationship with God? Spend time with Him; let His Spirit live in and through you by helping others and being a constant source of peace, joy, and love in the world around you.
When our actions are in sync with our prayers, our desires, we are, in effect, saying, “Lord, this is what I have, this is what I’m thankful for, and, Lord, I’d like more of it.”
What we put out, in thought, word, or deed, becomes our reality. Remember, Scripture tells us:
- Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
- Luke 6:45 – “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart…”
- Proverbs 27:19 – “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”
We can truly change our lives, and the lives of those around us, through prayer. Prayer of intention, and prayer in the form of action. Changes may not seem noticeable at first, and we may be tempted to give up. But, don’t give up…just keep praying – keep stating your prayers of intention, and let your actions speak, too. Like our quote says, we don’t have to be the most intelligent or the strongest – we just have to continually make the effort. It will, because it can’t not, unlock our potential of being so much more than we were. Our thoughts, words, and actions shape us, and the world around us – and they become our reality. And when that reality is truly living in the Spirit of Christ, not only are we transformed, our faith is transformed. It becomes more than religion, belief, or faith – it, quite simply, becomes our Way of Life.
I’d like to close with these words from Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu:
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16
- Proverbs 23:7
- Luke 6:45
- Proverbs 27:19
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