For Best Results, Pray Every Day

Do you pray? If you don’t, you are missing out on an opportunity to commune with the God of the universe. God wants us to talk to Him and draw closer to Him.

Just as a small child runs into the arms of their mother or father, so should we run into the arms of our Heavenly Father by praying to Him and talking to him.

Making it a habit to pray to God every day will strengthen your spiritual life and help you become all that God intends for you to be. Not to mention that you’ll feel better and improve the quality of your interpersonal relationships.

God even commands us to pray. Therefore, we can be sure it is the right thing to do. Jesus said:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 

Matt. 7:7-8

We need not worry if our prayers are doing any good. If we’re truly seeking God, we can trust in the effectiveness of our prayers:

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16b

The closer we draw to God, the more aligned with Him we’ll become in our heart. We’ll have the confidence that our wants are God’s wants:

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Ps. 37-4

But what if you don’t see answers to your prayers? Never fear, because God is still in control:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 4:6-7

Our job is to pray and keep on praying, even when that inner voice tells us that it’s not doing any good. 

That’s when our faith muscle kicks in, and we can trust in God that He will work everything out for the best:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Rom. 8:28

Even when things look bleak, we can be confident that God will not let us down. His way is the right way, so we should continually pray for His will to be done.

Doing so will increase our faith even more and enrich our lives here on earth while we wait to go to our eternal home in Heaven.

So, you’re not sure if you’re going to Heaven or not? 

There’s only one sure way to know. Ask Jesus into your heart to be the Lord of your life. Then, you can be certain you’ll have eternal life. 

It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make.

After you accept Jesus, pray every day for wisdom and direction. God won’t let you down.

Turn Your Life Verse Into an Affirmation

What is your life verse? 

You know, the one that every time you read it or think about it, it just speaks truth to you. If nothing comes to mind, ask God to give you one—a verse that He wants you to hold on to, to make it our own, during the good times and the bad.

I’ve had various verses that have spoken to me personally over the years. For at least 25 years, Proverbs 3:5-6 has been at the top of the list:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Long ago, It felt like God laid this passage on my heart, prompting me to hold it close because I would need it someday.

And, oh, how I’ve needed those words. I’ve had to remind myself over and over to trust God completely and not to rely on my own understanding or beliefs about the situation at hand.

Here lately, God has prompted me to keep in mind a different verse—Romans 8:28: 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose

This verse reminds me every day that no matter what challenges I face, it’s all working out for the best in my life. It may not seem like it now, but God has a plan and everything is falling into place.

In fact, lately when I’ve felt stressed or overwhelmed, I just yell out (to myself), “Romans 8:28, baby!” That simple reminder is enough to reset my emotions, help me remember that God is in control, and keep me from spiraling into an abyss of doom, gloom, and depression. 

One technique I’ve used a few times is to take several key passages of scripture that truly speak to me and write them down in a personalized way on either an index card or small piece of paper that I can look at each day.

For example, using the two passages in Proverbs and Romans, I might write the following affirmation:

Today I trust in the Lord with all my heart and will not rely on my own understanding. In all my ways I’m acknowledging Him, and He is making my paths straight. In everything God is working for my good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.

Philippians 4:4 and 4:6-7 are other powerful passages about God’s goodness and peace that I have often meditated on when life’s challenges feel overwhelming. I could personalize them as well and add them to my daily affirmation.

So, when I’m finished, I have the following written out:

Today I trust in the Lord with all my heart and will not rely on my own understanding. In all my ways I’m acknowledging Him, and He is making my paths straight. In everything God is working for my good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose.

I will rejoice in the Lord today. I will not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I’ll let my requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Prov. 3:5-6, Rom. 8:28, Phil. 4:4, 6-7

These are some of the verses that have greatly helped me over the years. Maybe they’re special to you as well. Or maybe you need to search the Bible and find your own verses that resonate with your unique circumstances.

Once you’ve personalized and written out your affirmation, take a moment first thing in the morning to read it, out loud if possible. 

Read it again while you’re eating lunch, and refer to it anytime during the day that you feel stress, anxiety, or depression creeping up on you. 

Bedtime is another fantastic time to read your affirmation and set your mind on God as you drift off to sleep.

Let God’s word soak into your spirit and drive out all the negative feelings and emotions that are trying to take root in your mind. Focus on God and His promises.

You’ll feel more joyful and hopeful if you do.

Eyes to the Future

Sitting in the back seat of the car on our day trip led to an incredible bonding experience with my grandson recently.

Although he is only 11 months old, when I focused on his eyes—deep gray blue marbles speckled with dancing light—he seemed much older. The eyes are the windows to the soul, as they say.

I gazed at him and wondered what kind of world he would end up inheriting from us—his parents and grandparents. 

In 2046, what will the world be like when he’s 27, my son’s age? If the world remains on its present trajectory and God doesn’t step in, I can only imagine the kinds of trials he might have to endure.

I was lost in his beautiful, soulful eyes, and he looked back into mine with a similar intensity. He had the same intense gaze, with an almost quizzical look, so uncharacteristic of a child that age. 

Maybe he was wondering why I was so focused on him. 

To me, he is nearly perfect in every way. He’s a beautiful child, as I’ve referred to him on more than one occasion. 

On this sunny day, his sparkling eyes captured glints from the summer sun and danced in an almost hypnotic way.

I searched his eyes for glimpses of his future. The deeper I gazed into them, the more I thought. What will he encounter in the coming years and decades of his life? 

Part of me shudders just thinking about it. If he follows Christ and lives as a Christian (which I pray he will), he may face intense persecution, the likes of which I’ve only imagined. 

He may have to fight for his rights to worship the way he wants—even right here in the United States, the land where freedom is supposed to ring and citizens are guaranteed the right to worship however they choose.

Each generation tends to think their generation had it the best (or the worst, depending on the context). I believe the 70s and 80s were the ideal time to grow up; however, I’m sure my millennial kids hold the same view of the 90s and 2000s.

What will my grandson say about growing up in the 20s and 30s? Will they be his ideal time or will he wish he had been born in another decade?

My hope is he will live his life to the fullest, no matter what he faces during his time on this earth. 

I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sorrow as we held each other’s gaze.

Is it irresponsible to raise a child in this day and age, given all the uncertainty in the world? Have previous generations asked themselves the same questions? 

I didn’t feel that way about rearing my own children. On the contrary, I felt it was the responsible thing to raise children and teach them right from wrong. 

At the time, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could feel that the world was too far gone to bring children into it.

How am I able to understand that viewpoint now? Have I changed, or has the world become a more dangerous and volatile place? Both perhaps.

Of course, the decision to bring this tiny creature into the world was not mine. However, there is little doubt I would still choose to have children all over again, even in these difficult times.

Certainly, I want the best for my grandson. I want those beautiful gray blue eyes to see only good in the world, ignoring the evil and the disturbing. 

Alas, I can’t shield him from all that. I’ll have to leave that in God’s hands for Him to manage.

As of now, his eyes have seen only good in the world. They have yet to witness many less savory things that he will no doubt come in contact with. 

I wish those mesmerizing pools of color could maintain their innocence throughout his life. My prayer is that all the negative he will inevitably encounter will somehow mold him for the better.

Follow This Biblical Pathway For Success

What if you believed you truly had the power of God on your side? Would you feel differently about your life than you currently do?

Maybe you already believe that you have God’s power working in your life and you live every day knowing that God is working through you.

I’ve personally struggled with this concept—that is, believing that God’s enormous power is really working on my behalf to help me succeed in whatever I may find myself doing.

In fact, in some of my lowest moments, I’ve found myself doubting God—doubting that He cares and doubting that He is doing anything in my life. 

Logically, I know that those thoughts come from our enemy, because

all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Why is it so difficult for us to remember and rely on this promise from our loving Heavenly Father?

We should walk through each day in victory, knowing without a doubt that God is doing good things in our lives because we have accepted Christ as our Savior.

It is hard to live this way, however, as we are continually bombarded with negativity.

After all, we live in a fallen world and we’re subject to all the tactics of the devil designed to derail our Christian walk.

It is far too easy to let the enemy keep us focused on all the mundane issues of our lives, rather than walking in strength by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to be a helper and a comforter to Christ followers. 

We are told,

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8

And,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

So, what is the answer then? On a practical level, how do we tap into this power that is waiting for us?

My belief is that it all begins with prayer—simply acknowledging God as all-powerful and asking Him for His help every day. 

Then, we must simply believe.

Everything you pray and ask for—believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

God is waiting to help us. He wants us to be successful doing His work on earth. If we sincerely seek Him and His power, He will honor our request.

Since the devil is always on the lookout for any chance to cause chaos, confusion, and evil, I believe that we should also ask for wisdom. 

We need to be aware of any weaknesses or areas of our lives we leave open for the enemy to use to his advantage. Once again, we are promised,

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him

James 1:5

God wants our success, and He will give us wisdom to help us get His work done.

While prayer and faith are the key ingredients needed to tap into God’s power, asking for His help isn’t a one-time thing. 

We must seek Him daily, reaching out to Him to acknowledge our weaknesses and ask for His help. 

That is the path to accessing the power of God every day. Following it will ensure that we’re successful in whatever He has called us to do to advance His kingdom.

Wait For God’s Timing

Has God ever come through for you? 

Has there ever been a situation in your life when you needed Him to do something that only He could do—so you prayed and God did exactly what you asked him for?

If so, then you know from this past experience that He cares for you and hears your prayers.

It was a faith-building experience. Through it, you gained just a little more faith that God is good and does only good things. 

Now you have that much more faith to carry you through the rough times. If God came through for you once, then He’ll do it again.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that the next time God shows up, it may not be in exactly the way you think He should. 

God has a particular way of doing things. It’s His way, and that may or may not line up with what you have pictured. 

You probably have an answer all laid out in your mind about your situation. You know how it should work out. Or, at least you think you do.

God may have a whole different idea about it, and you have to be flexible and patient. 

When it comes to waiting on God and His timing, patience is important. He usually doesn’t work in the same timeframe we do. 

We want an answer yesterday when we’re faced with a problem. God’s timing may not give you an answer for quite some time. 

And when He does answer, it may look totally different from what you expect.

But one thing is for certain—it will work out for the best. We’re assured of that in Romans 8:28.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

We just have to wait on God to do His thing. And we must remain prayerful during this time, because we don’t want to miss anything He may be telling us about His plan. 

If there’s something we need to do, He’ll let us know. That’s why we need to stay connected to Him in the meantime. We have to keep the lines of communication open so we can hear Him.

He wants to come through for us—never forget that. But we need to wait patiently in faith for Him and His timing.

Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Hebrews 11:6

Faith and patience are the keys. 

He WILL come through, because He said He would in the verse from Romans. 

Just don’t get ahead of God and try to work things out on your own. Doing this can often make a tough situation even worse.

Wait on God and you’ll eventually see what He has in store for you.

You’ll be glad you did.

Trust God No Matter What

We all have times in our lives when our faith falters and we begin to doubt God.

We wonder if He’ll be true to His word and follow through with His promises to bless, help, and protect us. It’s natural to find ourselves doubting from time to time because, after all, we’re only human and far from perfect. 

What is the best way to get back on track to the point where we’re relying on God again? No doubt you’ve been in tough situations in your life before—whether it was with money, relationships, your career, your health, or something else. 

Did you pray to God and ask Him for help during these times? Most likely you did. What was the outcome?

Maybe He didn’t answer your prayers in just the way you thought He should; however, He brought you through those trying times in the way that was best for you in the long run (Rom. 8:28).

So, if you’re currently faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge in your life, the key is to think back on those other tough times and remember how God brought you through them. 

No matter how those other challenges turned out in the physical realm, God was with you every step of the way. He never left your side because He wants what’s best for you and is always working things out on your behalf. 

You are who you are today because of the challenges and circumstances you’ve had to endure in your life up to this point. 

The situation you’re in right now will be just one more example of how God uses our daily lives with all its challenges and trials to mold us into the people He wants us to be. 

But we have to trust Him. When things seem their darkest, recall all the good things He has given you in your life. Spend a few minutes just meditating on ways He has blessed you. 

It could be that He has given you a wonderful and loving family, an enjoyable job you look forward to each day, financial blessings such as an unexpected windfall, or just the ability to take joy in the midst of chronic physical pain each day.

God loves you and wants you to lean on Him. Do it. Trust Him with everything in your life—your time, money, energy, and resources. He WILL come through for you. 

However, don’t expect His help and blessings to look like you think they should, because they often won’t. He’ll work out your situation in His own time frame and in His own way. But you’ll come out on the other side better for it.

How’s Your Generosity?

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35

One of the best ways to lift your mood is to give. At first, this may sound counterintuitive. After all, if I’m down in the dumps, I’m the one who needs to be given to. My resources are low, it would seem, and I’m not able to give anything to anybody.

However, the opposite is actually true. When it seems like you have nothing, that’s when it’s most important to give. It could be anything—money, your time, or just a small gift of some sort.

And it could be to anyone—your spouse or significant other, your kids, a coworker, or even a stranger. I know that for me, random acts of kindness have a way of making me feel better. 

When we give, we take our focus off ourselves and put it on someone else. When we’re thinking about others and their needs, we’re not wasting time dwelling on any negative thoughts that might pop into our mind.

I don’t believe God deals much in formulas, but this is pretty much as close to a magic formula as you’ll find in the Bible.

Give of yourself to others and you won’t be as concerned about what’s going on in your own life. Others’ needs will take a place of importance instead.

Take a moment to think about the important people in your life and how you might give to them. Can you perform some small act of service for them? Maybe you could buy someone lunch. How about just paying them an honest compliment? 

Even if there’s not anything you can think of that they need from you, you can always pray for them. That’s a form of giving that doesn’t require anything other than time and a little thought. 

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Luke 6:38

This verse should serve as an encouragement to us when we think we have nothing to give. It doesn’t matter how small it is. You’ll feel better and you’ll be doing something positive at the same time.

God will honor your gift. It may not look the way you expect it to look, but His word says you’ll receive the same measure as what you give. 

So, go ahead…give something to someone and see what happens. Make it a daily habit to be a generous person.

Make the Bible’s Words Your Prayers

Sometimes when we’re so down we just don’t know what to pray or how to pray to God. It seems like our prayers are going nowhere.

These are times when you can refer to the word of God for your prayers. If we’re weak in strength (emotionally and/or physically), all we have to do is pray words that have already been spoken before.

What this means is that we can use the God’s words from the Bible as our own prayers. We can find words that His people spoke to Him long ago and make them our own.

Rather than strictly coming to God with a list of concerns and cares, we can use these words as a guide to focus our prayers. Using them can transform our words into strong petitions that accurately reflect who God is and who we are in relation to Him.

Jeremiah 33:3 says,

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Call out to God. Tell Him of your weakness. Tell Him you want to serve Him but you feel unequipped to do so. Trust Him to speak to you. It might not be right away, as sometimes we must wait on God to hear His voice clearly. But never stop trusting Him that He loves you and wants you to hear Him.

Praise God and thank Him that you can trust Him just as Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

You might pray something like, “Thank you, Father, that I can trust you with all my heart and that as I acknowledge you in every area of my life, you are making a straight path for me.”

It might be that trouble with your job or professional life has left you physically drained. Perhaps your finances are in disarray and you’re barely able to make ends meet.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 we find this prayer from Jabez:

“Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”

We learn in the next verse that God granted Jabez’s request. That’s not to say that God will give you whatever you ask for or that if He does, that it will be in the timeframe you want. God works in His own time and for His own divine purposes.

However, by speaking this prayer to God, you’re letting God know that you have needs (He already knows them anyway) and you’re inviting Him to be the One who works everything out. You’re recognizing that you can’t do it on your own.

Psalm 34:4-7 is a wonderful passage if you’re just feeling generally afraid and anxious:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”

Here we find David’s testimony that God helped him in his time of need. Just as He did for David, God will deliver you from your fears. He will save you out of your troubles.

Once again, it may not be in exactly the way you think He should. It may not be when you think it should be. But he is faithful. He’ll save you just like he did David.

Make these words your prayer. Personalize them. Thank God for His help. Praise Him for being faithful and for saving you as He did David.

Philippians 4:6-7 is another great passage for helping us through anxiety and worry. It tells us,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Pray to the Lord and thank Him that you have nothing to be anxious about. Praise Him for His peace in Jesus that is guarding your heart (emotions) and your mind (logical thought processes).

God loves us and is always there for us. Nothing we can ever do will change that.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him” (Ps. 103:11).

Use the examples that He gave us in His word to personalize your prayers and make them powerful, God-trusting, God-praising prayers. Fortify them with God’s words and see if He doesn’t help you in your time of need.

Philippians 4: The Original Cognitive Therapy

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A good day

I discovered the book on the first Saturday in May several years ago. Derby Day for those of you familiar with horse racing. The giant of horse races runs on this spring day every year—the Kentucky Derby, AKA The Run For the Roses.

On this particular Derby Day the clouds had opened up and drenched our area with rain. With nothing in particular I had to do that afternoon, I decided to visit my local library before the big race. I began perusing the rows of wonderful books, finding myself in the self-help section of the nonfiction books.

That is where I found it—Feeling Good by Dr. David D. Burns. The title alone immediately drew me in. Who doesn’t want to feel good? Finding a cozy spot in the library I nestled in and began reading my new find.

I found the book so engaging that I checked it out from the library, later buying my own copy.

And that was my first real introduction to the basics of cognitive therapy.

 

Cognitive therapy? What’s that?

Merriam-Webster defines cognitive therapy as “psychotherapy especially for depression that emphasizes the substitution of desirable patterns of thinking for maladaptive or faulty ones.”

On its website, the Center for Cognitive Therapy describes the treatment in a way that’s easier to understand: “Cognitive Therapy is based on the premise that what we think affects our emotions, what we choose to do or avoid, and our physiological reactions…In fact, most situations remain neutral until we assign meaning based on how we interpret the situation.”

In a nutshell, Dr. Burns’ book describes how our feelings of depression are not actually rooted in reality, but rather in our perceptions of reality—false conclusions we make about ourselves and our circumstances.

 

OK—so how does it work?

Dr. Burns’ self-help approach to overcoming these feelings has several steps.

For example, if I’m feeling depressed and worthless because my boss passed me over for a promotion, the first step is to identify the Automatic Thought that is behind those feelings (Burns 29). In this case the thought might be something like, “I’ve missed out on another promotion. I’m worthless—I’ll never get ahead.”

Then I need to label the negative thought as one or more types of Cognitive Distortion—the illusion I have allowed myself to believe, which actually has no basis in reality. Dr. Burns lists 10 different Cognitive Distortions in his book (32). This thought of failure and worthlessness could be labeled as Overgeneralization. My mind took one setback and turned it into a pattern of lifetime defeat (Burns 33).

Once I have the identified and labeled the negative thought, I need to replace it with a Rational Response. I could say to myself something like, “That’s just one promotion. It’s not the end of the world. They’ll be other promotions to work for. Besides, I’m certainly not worthless.”

That’s how self-help cognitive therapy works. Dr. David Burns is a pretty smart guy for having figured all this out.

 

And God said, “Let there be cognitive therapy”

With all due respect to Dr. Burns, however, God is a whole lot smarter.

He drafted the blueprint for self-help cognitive therapy 2000 years ago in the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Here we will find God’s instructions to us—via the hand of Paul—for handling the depression, anxiety, and fear of everyday life.

Philippians 4:4 begins God’s plan for correcting our faulty thinking. The first bit of advice Paul writes is to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” If we cannot take joy in God—the Creator of the entire universe and the Savior of our souls—then nothing will help us.

In the following verse we’re told that God is near to us always (Phil. 4:5b); we’re to understand and take to heart that we’re not alone.

These two verses should form the bedrock of our self-help ritual.

 

Where the rubber meets the road

In Philippians 4:6 we find the beginning of the heart of cognitive therapy. “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

God commands us to have no anxiety. None. Zilch. But how are we supposed to do this you might ask. After all, each of us is bombarded on a daily basis with the stresses and strains of life—there is no escaping it.

The first key is to trust God, letting Him know our requests through the triple weapons of prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving.

On her podcast, bible teacher Kay Arthur elaborates on the key differences between these three important concepts.

According to Ms. Arthur, the word translated as “prayer” in verse 6 means general prayer to God in the original Greek. She explains that we should first simply talk to God, focusing on who He is—the fact that He’s sovereign and omniscient, and that He’s the One who promises everything in our lives will work together for good if we’re a believer in Christ.

She continues by explaining that supplication means making a specific request for our present needs.  When we’re fearful or anxious about a situation, ask God for help with the situation—whatever it may be.

Finally, be thankful. Stop and realize that you have Jesus for this situation—therefore you have access to the Father and everything you need for this and all other stressful situations in life. Your life is in His hands.

Fear, worry, and anxiety are the result of wrong thinking contrary to God’s word. They are also key causes of depression. Just like Dr. Burns’ method to identify and label the Automatic Thought—prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving enable us to grab hold of our fears, worries, and anxieties and hand them over to God for Him to take care of.

 

Finish strong

Verse 8 of Philippians 4 is the lock-in (similar to a grind-in if you’ve been involved in Emotional Brain Training (EBT), a form of cognitive therapy), tying everything together by keeping us focused on the positive things in life. Paul tells us to keep our minds trained on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

God designed us, so He knows our minds cannot remain empty for long. It is imperative to put something in place of our worries, fears, and anxieties or else they will creep right back in.

That’s why we’re commanded to think about positive, uplifting things—the sunshine peeking out after a morning rain; a fresh blanket of new snow; a full moon on a cold, clear night; a baby’s innocent smile; or even lighter-than-normal traffic on your morning commute.

On a recent podcast concerning Philippians 4, Pastor J.P. Jones teaches that if we want the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, then we must be “peace makers, peace receivers, peace thinkers, and peace practicers.”

Philippians 4:8 represents a strong parallel to the final piece of Dr. Burns’ self-help cognitive therapy method. The only significant difference is the terminology. We’re labeling the negative Automatic Thought what it really is—fear, worry, and anxiety, and instead of substituting it with a Rational Response, we’re filling our minds with all the good, positive, uplifting things about the world we live in.

So we see that Dr. Burns was definitely onto something great when he wrote Feeling Good. Only God beat him to it by a couple thousand years.

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Work Cited

Burns, David D. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Harper, 1999.

 

5 Suggestions For the New Year…With a Twist (Plus 2 Bonus Suggestions)

Everybody likes lists, right? Well, in no particular order here’s my list of New Year’s suggestions (nobody sticks to resolutions), but with a slight twist. Rather than focusing on ways to better ourselves in the new year (such as getting into shape, saving more money, etc.), my suggestions will take our eyes off ourselves and onto bettering our fellow man.

1.  Pray for our leaders

Our leaders are human just like the rest of us, so they need our prayers to help them make wise choices in governing our nation. We’ll have a new President in less than a month, and he’ll definitely need the prayers of all of us. May we seek God to grant him wisdom for the sake of our nation and all of God’s people around the world.

2.  Perform random acts of kindness

This one gets mentioned a lot throughout the year anyway, but now is as good a time as any to remember that there are people all around us who are hurting. A little kindness in the form of a smile or a few polite words can go a long way when someone feels all alone in the world. You may simply tip a little extra at your favorite coffee shop. Or for more of a challenge, try to say one uplifting thing to someone each day.

3.  Volunteer to serve in your church or community

Most churches routinely run short of volunteers. Why not try your hand in the kids’ ministry or on the tech crew? Or you may want to help out at a local homeless shelter serving warm meals to those in need. Many communities offer an after-school tutoring program where you can serve kids. The possibilities are endless.

4.  Get to know someone new

Introduce yourself to that quiet guy who works in another department at work. Or strike up a conversation with a stranger while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. You never know where it may lead. And if you never see each other again, you may at least have brought a little joy into someone’s life for a few moments. Try to do this at least once or twice a week.

5.  Be the person you look for others to be

Go the extra mile in your daily life. Pick up that stray piece of trash in the park. At home, wash the dishes if you see them stacked up in the sink. Organize the office to take up a donation or to cook meals when a coworker is sick. When you see a need, don’t wait for someone else to fill it. Take the initiative and be that someone yourself.

 

These suggestions aren’t for the direct benefit of our own selves, but we can’t consistently give to others without in return bettering our own lives.

 
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Now, I have two bonus suggestions intended for ourselves that are more along the lines of traditional New Year’s resolutions.

6.  Memorize two bible verses a week

Pick two verses that are meaningful to you and commit them to memory. You might take one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Do whatever works for you. At the end of the year you’ll have over 100 verses memorized! If memorizing just one verse a week works better for you, then do that instead.

 

7.  Make a reading list of 10-15 books for the year

These could be whatever kind of books you want, but I recommend they inspire you and cause you to think. Maybe you like biographies, or perhaps an intriguing novel is more to your liking. Select spiritual books, or even books of poetry. Just make the list and commit to reading your way through it this year. Even if don’t read everything on your list, you’ll be better for trying.

 

Your turn!

What about you? Do you have any special or unique New Year’s “Suggestions”?

Leave me a comment and let me know.