Day by Day: Three Things to Pray

Living a Christian life is a day by day commitment and exercise. And, it’s about vision — seeing and focusing the “eyes” of our understanding on Jesus (find more links to equip you to better “see Jesus” at end of article).

Eph 1:18  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Seeing Jesus starts first with understanding gospel hope. Hope in a God who saves!  Hope in a God who is Creator, Redeemer, Father, Son, and Spirit, Lord of All, Giver of Life, and the only One who can regenerate a dead soul and sustain a living hope.

  • When an unregenerate sinner understands his need for forgiveness and believes that Jesus alone can wash away his sins, then the “eyes of his understanding” are opened to receiving the gospel truth and coming to faith and saving grace.
  • When an unregenerate repentant sinner confesses faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, Jesus is faithful to forgive and to give eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • When a forgiven sinner grows in the knowledge of the Lord and in a relationship with Him, his “eyes of understanding” are opened to experience greater and greater hope and to do three things:  1) see Jesus more clearly, 2) love Jesus more dearly, and 3) follow Jesus more nearly.

1) Seeing Jesus More Clearly

For information on seeing Jesus more clearly, visit some of the links below.  Today, I’m going to illustrate this with a couple fun games.

My father has been with the Lord for almost 40 years now, but today, June 9th, would have been his birthday.  So today I want to share a fond memory of him from my childhood.

When I was young, my father would often draw symbols on a piece of paper, and then ask me, “What do you see?”  This was an ongoing game, even though, after the first time, I knew what I was supposed to see.

Take a look at my father’s simple illustration.

Now, look again.  And this time, focus on the white spaces between the black symbols. What do you see?

Did you see a name?  The Name above all names?  If so, you understand why my father would challenge me with this little game when I was a young child.  He would ask, “What do you see?” and he would add, “Now, this is important.”

We played this game over and over again.  No matter how many time my father would draw the symbols and ask the question, and no matter how many times I would answer, “I see Jesus,” my father’s response was always the same. “That’s good. That’s good.”

It’s a simple and fun game.  And once you see the white letters, you’ll see His name every time.  It will even become difficult to see the black symbols.

The message of the game?

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus.  His light appears clearer than any darkness.  Let Him be the one you look to when the black of night overshadows you and your sight is diminished. Jesus is the Light and He is always with us to light our way.

Now, one more little game!

This tests your focus once again.

Wasn’t that fun!  We “see” Jesus with the “eyes of our hearts” (the “eyes of our understanding” Eph 1:18) and this little exercise helps us to “see”–in our mind–the precious face of our Lord.

2) Loving Jesus More Dearly

We are told in the Bible to fix our eyes upon Jesus.  Fixing our eyes on Him will keep our vision clear and our hearts devoted to Him and our love for Him will grow deeper.

Both of these games should remind us of what Peter wrote in his first epistle: “[Jesus Christ] whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him [with your eyes], yet believing [with your mind and heart], you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,” (1 Pet 1:8)

3) Following Jesus More Nearly

Only when our eyes are focused on Jesus, and our hearts devoted to Jesus, can we more nearly follow Him.

God is working, on each and every one of His children, every second of every minute of every hour of every day. He is working to conform us into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29).  While we did nothing in our regeneration, there is something we can do in our conformation (our being conformed to the image of Jesus)!  It is simply to stay focused; to keep looking to Jesus.  He began our faith (He is the Author, Hebrews 12:2) and He will see it through (He is the Finisher, Hebrews 12:2).  Jesus, who began a good work in us, will complete it (Phil 1:6).   When our eyes are focused on Jesus, and our hearts devoted to Him, the Holy Spirit can more effectively work in us to conform us and through us so we more willingly and ably follow Jesus more nearly.

Psa 123:1  Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.

Psa 141:8  …my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord; In You I take refuge…

Day by Day, Three Things I Pray

The words, “to see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly” are most often remembered from the song “Day by Day,” first made popular in the Broadway musical “Godspell.”

Day by day, oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

Day by day, day by day
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly, day by day

While the song from “Godspell” might have popularized this petition, the words go back much further than the early 1970’s theatrical production. The three-phrase petition should be attributed to a  thirteenth-century bishop, known as Richard of Chichester. History records that Richard of Chichester prayed these words as he lay dying:

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me, 0 most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother. May I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly.

Day by Day

“Godspell” was not a Christian presentation.  It was a Broadway production with theatrical license that was not biblical. However, the song faithfully repeats the word of Richard of Chichester.  Enjoy the words for what we know to be true.  Keep looking up, for our redemption draws nigh (Luke 21:28).

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