“If all of your life is visible to others, from the time we get up in the morning until we fall into bed at night, then we’ll be as unsteady as a ship with no keel. Indeed, the more of us is invisible, hidden from the world in quiet, in study, in planning and in prayer, the more effective our visible life will be.”–A. Ortland
Tucked away in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians are these words, “…and find out what pleases the Lord” (5:10). A fresh new year is approaching and with it most of us encounter pre-determined new rhythms: a new fiscal year, a new semester, a new calendar in a new planner and the desire for a fresh new start. I am a Christian and as such I truly want to please the Lord in this new year. But how do I know what pleases the Lord? Daily reading of the Bible, intentional prayer and journaling for the purpose of processing what I am learning from scripture and what insights I am gaining through prayer all help me to know what it means to please the Lord.
When I read one Bible verse or take the time to do an in-depth study on a particular topic I come into contact with truth. “Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) How is reading the Bible different from scrolling a blog or reading a news report? The former is spiritual and never changing, the later is merely gaining knowledge or opinion. Hebrews 5:12 explains, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” When I approach Bible study for the purpose of finding out what pleases the Lord in a particular area of my life I am laying that area at the Lord’s feet and asking Him to give me His wisdom above my own thoughts and attitudes.
Intentional prayer also helps me to know what pleases the Lord. “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15) I can seek to know His will in specific areas of my life by asking Him for wisdom. Just like when I seek for truth in His Word, I pray to know that truth and to have the strength to apply that truth in my life.
Journaling is a tool I use that helps to clear away distractions and to instead focus on the issue of the problem at hand. Psalm 119:15 explains, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. And verse 11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” When I take my thoughts, desires and God’s truth and put them on paper I am meditating on and wrestling with my reality and how I may respond to it in a way that pleases the Lord. In Psalm 119:11 David wrote, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your will.” Journaling can be used as a tool to process through what are “worthless things” in my life and what is going to lead to pleasing the Lord.
Daily reading of scripture, intentional prayer and journaling what you are learning from scripture all help you to know what it means to please the Lord. There will be unknowns in the coming year. However, as a Christ follower you have the assurance that God will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is there for you in His Word and is always available to hear your prayers.