The editors at New Growth Press carefully and thoughtfully listened to the sermons, lectures, conference talks, and interviews of David Powlison and combed through his books and articles as they compiled 366 days of devotions that speak to the heart of every Christian. Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith is a yearlong devotional journey into the process of biblical change, where truth becomes clearer and our ears hear and our eyes see what God tells us about himself.
Below, we share a few of the daily devotionals from Take Heart.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:5–7 NIV
The Lord has something to say about what you are going through every single day. Scripture has been designed by God himself to connect to the reality of human experience. But how do you make those connections? Start with the pithy, straightforward passages of Scripture. Philippians 4:6, for example, says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” What promise could ever anchor you, so that you can make such a response? One of them is tucked in the little verse right before Philippians 4:6. Verse 5 says, “the Lord is near.” Anxiety is the experience that you’re all alone in a world that’s too big for you. You feel anxious because you can’t control your circumstances. But if the Lord is near, everything changes. You aren’t alone, and the one who is in control, to order and provide, he’s near and he cares for you and he is involved.
Starting with these basic promises reminds you in the midst of your day that the Lord is with you. Simple promises, taken to heart, get you and God on the same page with each other.
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”Matthew 6:9–13
Broadly speaking, there are three emphases of biblical prayer: circumstantial prayers, wisdom prayers, and kingdom prayers.
Sometimes we ask God to change our circumstances: heal the sick, give daily bread, protect from suffering and evil, make our leaders just, convert friends and family, make our work prosper, provide me with a spouse, quiet this storm, send rain, give us a child.
Sometimes we ask God to change us: deepen my faith, teach us to love each other, forgive sins, make me wise, make us know you better, help me to sanctify you in my heart, don’t let me dishonor you, help us understand Scripture, teach me to encourage others.
Sometimes we ask God to change everything by revealing himself more fully, magnifying his glory and rule. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, be exalted above the heavens, let your glory be over all of the earth, come Lord Jesus.
In the Lord’s Prayer you see examples of all three, tightly interwoven. The Lord’s kingdom involves the destruction of our sins and sufferings. His reign causes a flourishing of love’s wisdom and a wealth of situational blessing. Prayers for God to change me and my circumstances are requests that he reveal his glory and mercy on the stage of this world.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.2 Peter 1:3–4
The Spirit and the Word recognize that we are a tangled web, individually and together. We are dark even to ourselves, hard to understand, slow to change. Every one of us has stubborn inconsistencies and blind spots. Jeremiah says that our hearts are deceitful and wonders who could possibly understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). The only one who does thoroughly understand us is God. Sometimes he helps us to change rapidly. But he usually intervenes slowly—to transform how a person thinks, loves, fears, wants, and trusts on a scale of years and decades, over a lifetime.
The reorientation of our hearts is a slow road. We will only be made wholly right when we see Jesus face-to-face. Someone’s behaviors matter and the deep waters of the inner person also matter. Complexities do not erase simplicities, and vice versa. The ability to attend to both is much to be desired, and calls for humility, patience, and an abiding awareness of need for greater wisdom and skill.
People tend to evade personal responsibility by blame-shifting and self-justification. The courage to face hard things grows slowly in people who suffer greatly. From many angles, our Father states and restates his love for us in Christ. People need to hear that because it is by promises that we change (2 Peter 1:4). God sympathetically describes and illumines the varied challenges of tough circumstances. He invites our faith. Because he is merciful and patient, we learn to relate our needs and joys honestly to him.
Excerpted from Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith by David Powlison ©2022 by Nancy Powlison. Used by permission of New Growth Press. May not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith
Drawn from David Powlison’s many decades of writing, teaching, and speaking, Take Heart is a yearlong devotional journey into the process of biblical change, where truth becomes clearer and our ears hear and our eyes see what God tells us about himself.