READ: EXODUS 34:5-6; MATTHEW 22:35-40; EPHESIANS 4:31-5:2
Do you ever feel like you’re failing in your relationships? I do. I often find myself asking God to help me be a better friend, daughter, wife, mother, church member, coworker, and so on. And while these prayers have good intentions, I would often spend more time berating myself for my failures and thinking about human solutions than asking God to change my heart.
Because the root of the problem isn’t my behavior—it’s my heart. My actions and words flow from my heart, so simply modifying those actions and words doesn’t fix the problem (Luke 6:45). My heart is still inclined toward selfishness, grumpiness, and impatience. To fix the problem, I need Jesus to change my heart.
So, I’ve recently started changing the way I pray in these situations. First, I process my feelings with God. I bring Him my feelings of anger, frustration, grumpiness, and irritation. He cares about these feelings, and He wants to bring healing. Relationships are complicated, and sometimes I need to acknowledge the ways someone has failed to love me, as well as the ways I’ve failed to love that person.
Then, instead of praying, “Lord, help me be a better friend,” I say, “Lord, incline my heart toward _____.” Because if my heart is inclined toward that person, my words and actions will flow from that posture of love. And sometimes, this prayer applies to my relationship with God too—I’ve often prayed that God will incline my heart toward Him and His good ways.
And this is only possible because God’s heart is inclined toward me—toward us (1 John 4:19). Jesus proved this through His death and resurrection. He longs to be with us, to make us whole. And His love is unshakeable. His heart will never be inclined toward selfishness, grumpiness, or impatience. He is always seeking our good and the good of His Kingdom. And when I rest in this truth, I find myself much more inclined to love my neighbor as myself. • Taylor Eising
• What do you do when you feel like you’re failing in a relationship? How could remembering Jesus’s unshakeable love for us bring us encouragement during these times?
• If you’re ready, you can take some time right now to pray, asking God to incline your heart toward Himself and/or specific people in your life.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)