Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings and prayer prompts to help you spend time with and draw closer to Jesus
Psalm 42:1,5 (NLT) —As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
Seeking God's Presence with a Childlike Heart
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” By making us in His image, God gave us the gift of imagination to use for our lifetimes, not just to entertain us through the years of childhood. Though often left by the wayside around age 10, using our imagination is one of the most helpful tools we have in seeking and experiencing God’s presence. Jesus told His disciples that they needed to become like little children (Matthew 18:3), because humbled, trusting hearts are like blank canvases seeking the brushstrokes of a master artist. When we practice childlike faith, our spiritual eyes become new again, allowing us to see the unseen… and giving us the ability to dream of the future masterpiece He is creating from both our trials and our triumphs.
In our quest to know God better, depend on Him more deeply, and see His glory radiate through our lives, the cultivation of spiritually-focused imagination is absolutely vital. If the idea of using your imagination seems foolish, then consider this quote by minister Henry Ward Beecher from the mid-1800s. “The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope.” In other words, we are more likely to “see” God if we regularly engage our imagination when we spend time with Him. Beecher, who was also a tireless abolitionist, went so far as to say, “The imagination is the secret and marrow of civilization. It is the very eye of faith.”
The Psalmist also knew that the secret to finding God’s presence, especially when our feelings or circumstances are swirling out of control, was to approach his Heavenly Father with both a childlike faith (Psalm 131) and a vivid imagination (Psalm 23). David, probably more than any other Biblical writer, consistently conjured up visions of what being in God’s presence would be like. As a prolific poet and lyricist, David’s words teach us how to be completely vulnerable, honest, and open with the One who made us. It is impossible not to see the striking parallels between David’s struggle with isolation in Psalm 42 and what we are going through today during the pandemic. Verse 2 and 4 say, "I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!"
Like David, who was on the run from murderous King Saul, we cannot gather together in person and worship God. Yet, when we bring that longing to God and imagine ourselves worshipping together as one body and thanking Him in all circumstances, the Holy Spirit knits our hearts together and pours out comfort. Our praises and prayers lifted to God in the middle of any situation are capable of sustaining us and drawing us closer to Him. David's words in verse 8 are, "But each day the Lord pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life." And because David does this, he is able to say not once, but twice, that when he is discouraged and sad, "I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!"
Our mighty but loving Father is not phased or displeased by our raw honesty, anger, doubts, or disappointment. He created these feelings and understands that we bring them with us as we seek His presence. It’s not like we serve a God who doesn’t “get it.” Jesus walked in our shoes and He completely understands our temptations, distractions, frustrations, and struggles. And that’s all the more reason to use your imagination, just as David did, to harness your mind’s creative faculties to draw you closer to God in the days and weeks ahead.
As you prepare to start another week of sheltering in place, using your imagination to help you enter into God’s presence on a daily basis can help you minimize distractions, reinvigorate your worship, and motivate you on a deeper level to spend time with Him. To get you started, we’ve included five days of imagination-stirring Scripture passages and prayer prompts below.
Daily Bible Readings with Prayer Prompts
As you contemplate these passages throughout the week, make time to pray before you read them and then again afterward. In each reading, ask God to show you what the verses mean specifically for you. God’s Word is alive, so even if you’re familiar with these Scriptures, approach them with an expectant heart and an open mind. God wants to converse with you.
Monday - Read Psalm 147 once through, noticing how visually descriptive it is starting in verse 3 and going forward. Now, to focus your mind and help eliminate your distractions, read the passage again more slowly, pausing after each verse to visualize what the Psalmist is describing. Finally, select one or two verses that speak to you the most and close your eyes. Picture yourself as receiving God’s touch and being in His presence as those verses apply to you. Spend time quietly letting His love wash over you, as you move into a time of praising Him and bringing your needs before Him.
Tuesday - Sometimes, God allows difficulties and hardship to come our way specifically to lead us to a place of brokenness. Read Psalm 63 and spend time writing down anything that comes to your mind as a benefit of being broken in some way. Then read verses 2 through 5 again, envisioning what it would be like to see God in all His glory and trusting Him to turn your brokenness into praise.
Wednesday - After we thank God for all things, the Word tells us to give Him praise. Lifting your heart to God when you’re grieving over difficult things, rejection, or losses takes great effort, but when you do, your heart will be lifted, and your soul will experience real joy. Read Psalm 105:1-4 and Zephaniah 3:17 and imagine God singing and rejoicing over you.
Thursday - Read Psalm 139:1-12 and ponder how powerful and all-knowing God is — He knows your thoughts before you even think them! Focus on verses 8 through 12 and imagine yourself either in the most far-flung place on Earth or in the darkest corners of your mind. Then, picture a warm and gentle light flowing down and all around you, illuminating your thoughts and the place where you are sitting. Ask Jesus to unearth things in your heart that need His touch and then write down any themes of hope or encouragement you hear from Him in the passage you just read or while in prayer.
Friday - Read Psalm 139:13-18 and Romans 8:31-32. Then spend time thinking about the fact that God knew you and had a plan for you before you were even born. You were created in His image and carry His imprint on your heart. The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts about you are greater than all the grains of sand on a beach. As you close your eyes, imagine walking down a beach with Jesus and ask Him to share a few of those numerous and amazing thoughts with you. Tell Him whatever is on your heart today and trust Him to know what to do with it.
What Can I Do About Anxiety? — If you are struggling with anxiety especially during this season, you may find this three-part essay especially helpful. It was written by someone who is prone to anxiety herself, our own Community Team Study Guide Writer, Sara Goetz.
READ PART 3 OF THE ESSAY