We all have an “inner-dialogue” running through our heads all day long. The Psalmist finds a way to harness that inner-dialogue for good when life’s troubles threaten:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 42:6).
Oftentimes, I don’t do as well as this Psalmist. Too often, I allow my pain or my stress to guide the way I speak to myself. Perhaps we allow comparisons with other people guide our self-talk. How about you?
Go back and listen to the sermon for more of the story and Scripture behind all this, but I issued a challenge to the congregation to get alone with God for 30 minutes and write down their answers to these two questions:
1) What negative thought-patterns are dominating your inner-dialogue?
2) What truths from God’s Word would counteract those?
Here are some examples:
I tell myself my life is a mess and that’s not okay; God says I’m His child, which means it’s okay not to have it all together because my Father has me in His loving hands (Jn. 10:29; 1 Jn. 3:1).
I tell myself I’m a loser; God says I’m a champion, which means that in the end I’ll win (Rom. 8:37).
I tell myself I’m unwanted or unattractive or unloved; God says I’m His bride, which means I’m beautiful/amazing and worth pursuing (Eph. 5:25).
I tell myself I’m not important; God says I’m His ambassador, which means that I represent His Kingly authority on the earth (2 Cor. 5:20).
I tell myself I’m a failure; God says I’m a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), which means my failures are wiped away and Jesus’ success has become my success.
Once you’ve made a similar list for yourself, you can begin crafting your own “Words to Live By” (I got this whole idea from Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church). The reason I focus first on our identity is that the way we see ourselves is the way we’ll speak to ourselves. If we see ourselves as losers, we’ll talk to ourselves like we’re losers.
But if we can see ourselves as God sees us, we can change the conversation we’re having with ourselves.
Once you have your “Words to Live By”, do what the Psalmist above—speak that truth over yourself! And do it daily! At first, you might not feel like you believe the words you’re saying, but in time God will reward your step of faith with a change of heart.
For me personally, I came up with some “Words to Live By” toward the beginning of the year. I do not follow the above “formula” exactly (feel free to take some liberty as I did—mine includes a sort of ‘declarative prayer’ in parts…), but I did have it working in the background as I crafted my statements. Some of my statements are too personal to share on a blog post, but below is a modified version of what I try to declare over myself each day, out-loud:
With God’s help, my friendship with Jesus will grow deeper every day and every year.
I will not find my identity in being the ‘exceptional disciple’, but in being ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’. I will respond to His love by loving Him in return—with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul, and with all my strength. Because I am God’s friend, that means I am not God’s slave. I don’t have to labor to earn His favor, because I already have it. God loves me just like I am right now, without any changes. And I choose to live for His love today.
With God’s help, I will never stop growing as a person, every day and every year because I am a branch on the Vine of Jesus, and Jesus is alive. He is looking for ways to increase me in every area of life—spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and relationally.
With God’s help, my marriage will grow stronger every day and every year. I will love my wife as Christ loves the church: pursuing her romantically, caring for her tenderly, providing for her financially, and leading her courageously. I will share the load of keeping up our home with joy and energy. I believe that God will answer my prayers that Alicia be fully healed of her infirmities and that she continue to be filled with joy and laughter.
With God’s help, my relationship with my children will grow richer every day and every year. Because I am a child of God, I will father my children in the way that God Fathers me. I will energetically relate to them, boldly lead them, consistently discipline them, and affectionately love each one of them. I will prioritize their friendship with God. I believe God will answer my prayers for them: Generational curses will not touch them; generational blessings will overtake them; each of their lives will fill their parents with joy; one day, they will gather around us and close our eyes in peace. [Note: that part’s more of what I call a ‘declarative prayer’, see Ps. 42:6].
With God’s help, this will be the best year that our church has ever had. God will build Wellspring Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I believe God will answer my prayers for this church: that there will be an outpouring of such power that we cannot contain it. The lost will be found, the sick will be healed, the broken will be restored, and the heavens will be opened. God will give us a church that pleases His heart and changes the world. [Note: that part’s more of what I call a ‘declarative prayer’, see Ps. 42:6]