by Gloria Copeland
If you’re new to the things of God, a beginner just learning about the word of faith, no doubt you’re eager to launch into a lifestyle of living contact with God by spending time each day in prayer and the Word. That’s how I was too when I first learned what the Word of God could do.
No one had to urge me to put the Word first place. No one had to tell me to turn off the television and put down the newspaper. I totally lost interest in those things because Ken and I were desperate for God. We were in trouble. We weren’t on the bottom of the barrel. We were under the barrel, and it was on top of us.
We knew that the Word of God was the only answer to our situation. So it was easy for us to sell out to it and spend time in the Word and in living contact with God day and night.
You know, desperation sometimes helps. It encourages you to simplify your life. It inspires you to eliminate the unnecessary things and just go for God. But after you’ve walked with God for a while and things begin to be comfortable, it’s easy to lose the desire you once had for the Word.
That’s what happened to me. Once Ken and I paid our debts and began enjoying the blessings of God, I began to let too much of my time be taken up by other things. They weren’t sinful things, they were just things I enjoyed doing. Almost without realizing it, my appetite for the things of God began to wane. Instead of hungering for time with Him, I enjoyed other activities and interests more. Those activities would have been fine if I had kept them in the right place, but they occupied too much of my time and attention.
I hardly even noticed it had happened until I was attending one of Brother Kenneth Hagin’s meetings in 1977 and he began to prophesy. (I still keep the final words of that prophecy in my notebook today.) Part of that prophecy said to purpose in your heart that you will not be lazy, that you will not draw back, hold back or sit down, to purpose in your heart that you will rise up, march forward and become on fire.
When I heard that, it dawned on me that I had become lazy about the things of God. I was still spending time in the Word, but not as much as before. And I wasn’t as full of zeal either—you can’t be spiritually on fire without spending a sufficient amount of time with God.
The Lord began to deal with me about it. I prayed and determined in my heart that I would change things. In order to simplify my life, I asked the Lord to show me what activities I should eliminate and what I should take on.
He led me to drop certain things that were stealing my time with Him. He also told me to do certain things that would help me get back in the habit of spending time with Him as I should. One specific thing He told me to do was to read one of John G. Lake’s sermons each day. Each time I read one of those sermons, it opened up my heart to the power of God in a fresh way.
He also led me to get up an hour earlier in the morning so I could spend time with Him before I began my day. It was wintertime and my alarm clock would go off and my flesh would say, You don’t want to get up. It’s too dark! It’s too cold! My bed would feel so wonderful and warm that there were a few mornings during the first weeks that I’d agree with my body and go back to sleep.
I didn’t let that stop me though. If I went back to sleep, I’d repent. Then I would ask God to help me, and the next morning I’d go at it again. Eventually, my body became trained.
Your body can be trained to follow God just like it can be trained to follow the devil. Hebrews 5:14 says that mature believers have their “senses and mental faculties…trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between…good and…evil” (The Amplified Bible). If you practice the things of God, your body will eventually begin to cooperate with you.
Getting up earlier was a challenge for a while. But eventually my body stopped complaining. It became accustomed to getting up at that hour.
My commitment to make time for God every morning has been one of the most important decisions of my life. It made such a difference in my spiritual growth. I’m not the same person I was then. People are always talking about how timid and restrained I used to be. And I really was—but I got over it!
Become Addicted to Jesus
By implementing the changes God instructed me to make, I created a lifestyle of living contact with God. I became addicted to spending time with Him. Do you know what the word addicted means? It means “to devote, to deliver over, to apply habitually.”
You create good habits in God the same way you create poor habits. If you’ll apply yourself to making contact with Him daily through prayer and the Word, it will become a way of life. You won’t even have to think about it—it will just come naturally to you.
That’s what happened to me. Making time with God as my first priority is such a habit that I don’t have to get up every day and think, Well, should I read the Word and pray this morning? I just do it automatically. It’s a way of life for me to spend the first part of my day in prayer. Even when Ken and I are traveling, even when I have to get up at 4 a.m. to do it—I do it.
You might think that’s extreme. You might think I’m the only one around who is that committed to spending time with the Lord every day, but I’m not. I’m one of many.
I have one friend in particular who is very diligent about it. No matter how early she has to get up in the morning, no matter what else her schedule may hold, she puts her time in the Word and in prayer first place in her day. That’s because many years ago she found herself dying of liver cancer. The doctors had diagnosed it and told her she only had a few months to live.
Medical science couldn’t help her, so she turned to God’s medicine. She began to spend time reading and meditating on scriptures about healing each and every day. As a result, she is alive and well today with no trace of cancer in her body.
My friend knows she owes her very life to God’s Word, so she is still faithful and diligent to partake of those scriptures and fellowship with God first thing every morning. She is a minister of the gospel, and like Ken and me, she often begins her day very early. But she says, “Even if I have to get up at 3 a.m., I do it.”
Certainly such faithfulness requires time and effort. It’s not easy. But if believers fully understood the blessings it brings, they would be willing to do whatever was necessary to make their time with God first priority every day.
There are great rewards for that kind of faithfulness! The Bible says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). The word translated perfect there doesn’t mean without a flaw. It simply means “faithful, loyal, dedicated and devoted.”
God will pass over a million people to find that one who is loyal to Him. He scans the earth looking for a person who will put Him first and let Him be God in their life.
God wants to help us. He wants to meet our every need and work miracles for us. If you were God, wouldn’t you do that? Wouldn’t you move in the lives of your children? The Bible says if you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more the Father gives to His children.
Well, we’re God’s children. We’ve been born of His Spirit. We look just like God on the inside because He’s our Father.
He has us in His heart. He cares about us. He loves each and every one of us as if we were the only child He has. God has a great and wonderful ability to have a family of many millions while treating each member as if they were the only one.
But God can’t bless us like He wants to if we won’t let Him be God in our lives. He can’t pour out His provision upon us if we keep clogging up our heavenly supply line by putting other things before Him. If He is to show Himself strong on our behalf, our hearts will have to be turned wholly toward Him.
Your Desire Follows Your Attention
Maybe today your heart isn’t turned wholly toward God. Maybe you’re facing the same situation I was facing back in 1977. You’ve grown busy and lost your appetite for the things of God. You know you ought to be praying more and spending more time in the Word, but you’ve lost your desire. You just don’t want to do it.
If so, you can turn yourself around. You can rekindle your fire for the Lord by making the same kinds of changes I made. Before long, you’ll find yourself addicted to God instead of the earthly pursuits that have been so consuming you.
How can I be so sure?
Because God showed me that your desire always follows your attention. Most people think it’s the other way around. They think their attention follows their desire, but that’s not the case.
One of the greatest practical examples of the fact that desire follows attention is the average golfer. In the springtime when the weather is nice and there is plenty of opportunity to play golf, most avid golfers become very absorbed in their sport. The more they play, the more they want to play. They think about it, read about it, talk about it. They are constantly wanting to play golf!
But when winter comes, they put away their golf clubs. They stop talking about it and thinking about it. They don’t mope around all winter because they can’t be on the golf course. Why? Because they’ve turned their attention to other things and their desire for golf has lessened.
I’ve seen that same principle at work in our conventions. People will come to a Believers’ Convention, and when they arrive they will often be completely caught up in natural affairs. They’ll be preoccupied, worrying and fussing about some business deal at the office or some problem they left at home.
But after just a day or two of attending the meetings and spending hours in the Word of God, they’ll completely forget about that business deal and that problem. They’ll be so absorbed in the Word that those things won’t interest them at all.
It doesn’t matter how disinterested you may have grown about the things of God. If you will turn your attention toward Him, your heart will follow.
I know that from experience. I turned my attention to the Word of God, spent time listening to tapes, spent time in prayer until I became so addicted to the things of God that I lost interest in many of the other things that had so engaged me before. For example, I enjoy decorating homes and offices, and I used to spend a great deal of time at it. But as I became more involved in the things of God, I just didn’t want to spend much time decorating. Now it’s a chore to do it.
What’s more, every time I thought about taking up some new project, starting a new hobby or buying something that would require me to spend my time maintaining it, I’d say to myself, Can I afford this? Can I afford the time it will cost me? Usually I decided I couldn’t. I had come to value the things of God so much and have such great desire for them, I just didn’t want to give my time to anything else unless it was absolutely necessary.
A Tithe of Your Time
My resolve to put prayer and the Word first place in my life every day was even further strengthened in 1982 by another prophecy by Brother Kenneth Hagin. In that particular prophecy, the Spirit spoke of wading further out into the realm of the spirit, until it’s so deep, you can’t possibly touch the bottom. But the Spirit warned, our flesh will hold us back from that. It’s only by renewing our minds that we can move into the realm of the spirit. Brother Hagin went on to say by the Spirit of God that if we’d just give an hour or two out of every 24, our lives would be changed and empowered, all would be well, and we would be a mighty force for God.
That prophecy has influenced and encouraged me tremendously throughout the years. In fact since hearing it, I have spent at least an hour or two alone with the Lord every day. When I began to do this, there were things in my life and family that I wanted to see changed. There were things in the lives of my children that needed to be improved.
When I heard the prophet say that if I’d spend an hour or two a day with the Lord, things would be well with me, I took God at His word. Today I can give testimony that word was true. It worked. At the writing of this article, everything in my life and the life of my family is good. Things are well with us. My children are healthy, blessed and serving the Lord.
There is no question about it. The time I’ve spent with God has changed my life. And I can say with certainty that if you’ll spend an hour or two a day with Him, it will change your life too.
How could it be otherwise? How could you possibly spend an hour or two daily with the highest authority and the most kind and loving Being in the universe without having it affect your life?
You may be facing problems today that seem to have no solutions. You may be caught in impossible circumstances. But I want you to know, God can change those things. If you’ll give Him a way into your life by making living contact with Him every day, He’ll give you a way out of those impossible circumstances. He’ll help you solve those problems. He’ll move on your behalf until you can say, “All is well with me!”
If you want a change, make a change.
Commit yourself to do whatever it takes to maintain living contact with God, and spend time with Him every day. Determine right now that by the strength and grace of God, if you have to get up earlier in the morning, you will do it. If you have to go to bed later at night, you will do it. If you have to change jobs, you will do it.
Decide that no matter what it takes, you will maintain your communion with God, and you will guard your heart above all, for out of it flow the issues of life.
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