By Dr. Audrey Davidheiser, Crosswalk.com
“I’m politically conservative, and a Christian. I felt the room chill.”
This Facebook confession came from a therapist who volunteered to introduce herself this way during a psychology training.
She decided to post her experience online because she was confused. Why did her fellow training participants receive her introduction with scant support, when they were all therapists taught to accept differences?
Within hours, hundreds of feedbacks flew from fervent fingers. One particular commenter’s diatribe about Christian conservatives as blind bigots garnered a rapid accumulation of likes, hearts, but also angry emojis. The group admin eventually capped the comments, but by then, the polarization had become painfully clear.
On one side of the divide stood those who feared (and/or detested) Christians. Especially the conservative kind.
On the other, those who defended them.
What a snapshot of our world: Tense. Rife with strife. Divided.
Thankfully, God hasn’t left us defenseless. He handed us a tool that never loses its efficacy: “The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16, CSB).
Don’t disqualify yourself from executing this verse because of the righteous designation in it. Nobody, in and of themselves, can claim innocence before God. At the same time, Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross has cleansed us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
That’s why God regards you righteous once you receive Jesus as Lord.
As we leave the old year behind, how about we saturate the coming new year with prayers? Whether or not world conditions will improve next year, covering every inch of life with prayer will only serve us well.
There is no such thing as prayer overkill.
So, let’s pray for three things that will remain regardless of circumstance: Faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Praying for more faith is to pray for the fervor to feed on the Bible, because faith comes by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17).
Sadly, only a few of us read the Bible frequently. Only 11% of Americans do so daily.
This dismal number is unfortunate, because the Word is God (John 1:1). One preacher refers to the Bible as “God on paper.”
But if the Bible is truly God in a written format, ignoring it is akin to gambling our lives away, because Scripture contains everything we need to face life’s difficult moments (2 Peter 1:3).
I get why some don’t bother with the Bible. If they don’t know how to read it, they may be turned off by the lists of genealogy or apparent contradictions within its pages.
Which can easily translate into shunning the entire Book altogether.
If you’ve noticed a tendency to gloss over Scripture, how about praying the following? “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law” (Psalm 119:18).
By praying this verse, you can expect to receive personalized insights from the Word you wouldn’t have conceived otherwise. An aha moment, in turn, can motivate you to dig deeper into the Bible, in hopes of uncovering hidden meanings behind more verses.
Plus, as a child of God, it’s your birthright to find your Father’s will in His Word. Do you need to make important decisions? Maybe you’re contemplating on purchasing a house. Pursuing higher education. Maybe moving to another state or even country. Ask God to direct your path through a verse or passage from the Word.
I relied on this method when a devout Christian sauntered into my world with a marriage proposal in mind. Let’s call him Matt.
Matt had the pizzazz of an evangelist. He shared Christ with every stranger.
Watching Matt’s fire for the Lord made me nudge Him. Is Matt the one?
God’s answer came while I was reading the Bible. A verse arrested my attention: “Who do you think I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to loose” (Acts 13:25, NKJV).
This quote is from John the Baptist, quelling questions about whether he was the coming Messiah or not. But the verse also served as God’s answer to my earlier inquiry. It’s as though God plucked that verse and placed it in Matt’s mouth: “Who do you think I am, Audrey? I’m not the man God has picked to be your future husband.”
I got to validate the truth of that verse (and my interpretation of it) when I met John three years later. I simply can’t name anyone who exceeds John’s love walk. He is—hands down—the kindest, and most patient, man I know (1 Corinthians 13:4).
But part of why I was available to marry John was because the Lord had warned me, through His Word, not to be sidetracked by another man.
Investing time in the Word yields much profit.
Most (if not all) of us have endured considerable pain since the COVID-19 pandemic began. From the loss of jobs to physical health to literal life, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t suffered due to COVID.
Let’s just say the human race has been walking in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).
This valley, as it turns out, is steeper and trickier to escape from than we might have anticipated. There has been no shortage of challenges since COVID broke out.
Inflation is at a 40-year high.
The Family Research Council reports Americans are increasingly hostile against church buildings.
And if the Facebook fights we saw earlier accurately mirrors the larger culture, the vitriol isn’t just aimed at churches, but also Christians.
If there’s ever a time we need hope, it’s now.
Hope, however, doesn’t automatically arrive just because the calendar switches over to January. According to Paul, genuine hope is a gift from the God of hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
If you type into a search engine “are we more divided now?”, your search will return with rows of headlines in the affirmative—at least in the United States. A recent poll shows almost 1 in 5 voters has experienced a falling out with family and friends over political issues.
The world seems bent on tearing each other apart no matter where we look. Sex scandals taint even the Church.
It has never been more urgent to master the Christlike skill of voicing our convictions with firm clarity while remaining open-hearted to those who oppose us.
But for this attitude to be genuine, we need to experience Psalm 119:32 for ourselves: “I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart.”
Praying this verse opens ourselves up to more love, including for those who resist our worldview.
That’s because God has poured out His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). And when our heart expands, we have an increased capacity to retain—and render to others—more of His love.
3 Prayers for the New Year
To personalize the above verses into prayers for the new year, try the following.
- Please overflow me with zeal for Your Word. Open the eyes of my heart so I may see wonderful things when I read my Bible. And when I need to make important decisions, please guide me through specific verses in Your Word. Help me devote more time in this new year to study Your Word.
- This challenging season has zapped me dry. I need real hope to face the entire new year. Please fill me with joy and peace so I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Please enlarge my heart so I will respond in gentleness, patience, humility, and forgiveness, even when others spurn me.
In Jesus’ name—amen.
May we all increase in faith, hope, and love as we traverse through the new season ahead.
Happy New Year!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
Audrey Davidheiser, PhD is a California licensed psychologist, certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist, and IFSI-approved clinical consultant. After founding and directing a counseling center for the Los Angeles Dream Center, she now devotes her practice to survivors of trauma—including spiritual abuse. If you need her advice, visit her on www.aimforbreakthrough.com