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 more than 40 years now, but when I was young he would play a fun game with me.  He would often draw seven symbols on a piece of paper, and then ask me, “What do you see?”  Take a look at my father’s simple illustration.

If you only see black symbols, look again.  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, even though, after the first time, I knew what I was supposed to see. 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.  However, once you see the white letters — once you “see” Jesus — 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.

One More Little Game!

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.  [Below you’ll find the story of the song. It’s origin will surprise you.]

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 — the Song

The song, “Day by Day” debuted in the musical “Godspell” in 1971.  “Godspell” was not a Christian presentation of Jesus or the gospel.  The musical did have biblical teachings in its spoken and sung words, many of the words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teachings found in Matthew. Because the musical was a Broadway production it was written with much theatrical license and included biblical inaccuries and omissions.  For example, the musical tells of Jesus’ death, but not His resurrection.

That said, the song, “Day by Day” 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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Do not be anxious about anything.  (Phil 4:6)

In this time of confusion and uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic,  we must rightly remember who is in control.  Our God is sovereign over all things, including COVID-19.  As Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) once said, “The sovereignty of God is a soft pillow on which weary people lay their heads.” 

Remember also God’s gracious promise, and that it is true and He is faithful to keep it:  Hebrews 13:5 …”I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  The next verse remind us of the power that comes in trusting God and how we can live:  Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man [or COVID-19] shall do to me.

God loves us, and in Christ we find confidence and calm in times of uncertainty and trouble.  When we trust in God, fear is replaced with faith, stress is replaced with strength, anxiety is gone and hope abounds, problems become opportunities, and we are able to receive the blessings God has for us in the midst of difficult circumstances. Turn to Jesus. He will lead you to the still waters and give rest for your troubled soul.  

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…Hebrews 6:19

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Be Ready Always...

to give a reason for the Hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).  When you can’t share the gospel with your words, share it by leaving tracts that tell people about God's grace.

When leaving a tract, always be diligent to pray about the short gospel message. Pray that it be found by someone who is in need of Jesus’ saving grace, and pray that the person will have a tender heart and open ears to receive the gift Jesus desires to give them.  

By the power of the Holy Spirit, even a small tract can help in turning a broken sinner from darkness to light.

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