by Scott Stephens
Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.
How many of us have gotten to the end of the day, and during our bedtime prayers, we thank God for his protection and guidance, yet we never spoke to Him or searched His Word for discernment as we navigated through the day?
I have been a follower of Jesus for a large part of my life. As I get older, I better understand the importance of seeking Him first in all that I think, say, and do (Matthew 6:33). I have to admit, though, that there are times when I am halfway through the day, and I haven’t spoken to or tried to hear from God. Without thinking about it, I’ve rushed into the day without praying for guidance and protection, asking for forgiveness for my failures, and requesting that the Lord give me the power to glorify Him in all I do. I have not prayed for my family and friends or the circumstances and challenges I will face that day. Inevitably, I’ve lived that day in my power and my wisdom.
I often tell my counselees that in our lives, either God is on the throne, or we replace Him with ourselves. If He is on the throne, we do all that is necessary to please Him. To please Him, we talk to Him; we find out about Him in His Word. He is to be the primary focus of our day. Our thoughts and actions are aligned with what He has commanded in Scripture (John 14:15).
If we are on the throne, we consider ourselves first. We may not realize that we are placing ourselves on God’s throne, but when we don’t consult Him and live in self-reliance, we believe that our decisions and activities are sufficient. Sadly, it indicates that our walk with God is less important when His involvement in our life becomes an afterthought. Our goals and tasks for the day have become the priority. God’s plans for us are not necessarily considered.
Our Spiritual growth depends on a regular prayer life and time in the Word of God. We cannot grow in Christ without seeking His company. John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” As disciples of Christ, we are not our own; we belong to the Creator (1 Corinthians 6:20). We have a higher calling that we cannot accomplish on our own.
Our purpose is clear: we are to seek God and His righteousness first before anything else (Matthew 6:33). To do this, He has to be the One who guides and directs all that we do. We grow in our relationship with Christ when we talk to Him in prayer and hear from Him as we read the Bible. We learn about Him, His purpose, and how we play a part in what He has planned for His people.
Because we have been created to develop habits, the activities we regularly do or don’t do eventually become a regular part of how we function. If we neglect prayer and time in the Scripture, these habits eventually become normal in our everyday activities. Be sure to seek God first by speaking and listening to Him whenever possible. Make it a habit that you will never break!