4 Key Ingredients for Change: How Any Area of Your Life Can Change for the Better
By Pierre Eade
The Christian life is meant to be a journey of change where the believer is continually being transformed into the image and likeness of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. No matter what season of life we are facing, one of trials or joys, God intends for us to grow and mature. So how does that change come about in our lives and what role do you as a believer play in the process of change?
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And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
If you desire change in any area of your life, you must first begin to think differently. Admitting your need for change is the first step in the thought process. Change starts when you recognize the ways in which you personally need to grow and mature. You begin to think, “I don’t want to live this way anymore.” When a man recognizes that he cannot control his drinking habits and comes to the realization that he has a problem, he has begun the journey to change.
Sometimes the recognition for change happens in the context of relationships. A woman says, “I can’t stand the state of my marriage” and seeks change. The natural response is to look for, desire and believe that it’s the other person that needs to be changed. But changing other people is not within our control. When we ourselves seek change, it ends up changing our attitude towards others and also can have a positive effect on our relationships, but ultimately God wants to start the change in you first.
It is natural to avoid change until life becomes so difficult or painful that we cannot stand it anymore. We apply the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality to our personal lives and relationships. Instead, I encourage you to pray a gutsy, but wise prayer like this, “Lord, help me to feel enough pain to make me desire change, but not so much as to make me want to quit.” Pain and suffering are never pleasant, but can be used and channeled in a way that creates a desire for spiritual growth.
Once a person recognizes their need for change, he must begin to think differently about this area of his life. What I have found to be helpful in my own life is to read biblically sound books about a specific topic where I seek to grow. So if you’re struggling in your finances, look to find a book about biblical stewardship and begin to renew your mind through God’s word and the practical advice of an expert in that field. The same applies for any other area of your life and relationships.
The Power of Prayer
“Call to me, and I will answer you, and will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)
Once we recognize our need for change, we need to call out to God for his intervention and help. Prayer connects us to the source of power required for growth in godliness. It is through God’s Spirit, not through our human will power or strength that true lasting change and spiritual growth take place. (Zechariah 4:6)
Prayer for change is most effective when it is made persistently and regularly. To persist in prayer is to not lose heart or believe that a one-time prayer will suffice. To find true change, we often need to break strongholds in our minds as well as in the spiritual realm of darkness that hold us back.
For though we walk in the flesh, we don't wage war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the throwing down of strongholds, throwing down imaginations and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience will be made full. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
In addition to reading materials that help to renew my mind on the area where I seek growth, I also look to incorporate biblically-based prayers over that area of my life. You may find books that help you pray more effectively through the strongholds you face, or you can use a concordance or Bible reference book to identify scriptures on the topic of need and then mold these scriptures into prayers.
The Necessity of Faith
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
Changing the way you think and then praying for God’s help are the impetus for true growth. The changes we desire in life first start within us (attitudes and mindsets) before they are manifested outwardly (in our conduct and character). Once we’ve recognized our need for change and called unto God for help, we must then begin to change the way we behave, act and live. This is a journey of faith.
It is by faith that we begin to live and respond differently to our surroundings and circumstances. By faith the alcoholic removes all the liquor from his home. By faith the mother who recognizes her critical nature begins to encourage and not condemn her children. By faith the young man who walked away from the religion of his mother and father begins to go to church again.
When you hear the word faith, think action. Faith is doing what you know is right. As you renew your mind in God’s word and ask for God’s power to change you must then act in a way that is conducive with His word and your prayers. Faith is where one’s inward belief becomes an outward manifestation. Faith causes you to live differently. Faith is where the rubber meets the proverbial road.
Accountability Creates Sustainability
"Therefore seeing we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily ensnare us,
and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)
At times the process for change begins well, but we lose momentum and eventually fall back into the same habits and behaviors of our past. The key to sustaining and maintaining the growth that we make in the Lord is finding accountability with other believers in Christ.
In sports, we find the most success when we have a partner or coach to push us to the next level. The same holds true with spiritual growth. Unless you have a brother or sister in Christ who is supporting your efforts to grow and mature, you will have a harder time making long-term progress.
The truth is that we were not created to live independent lives, but interdependent ones. We are called to live in community with other people who are of a like mind and spirit and to grow together. As you begin to seek change in your life, it would be wise to pray for God to give you friends who will support you in these endeavors. When we open our lives to other believers and ask for their prayers, we find strength and healing. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)
We all need people in our lives who will encourage us to grow in Christ and won’t be jealous or envious of us when we do well. We need to be this type of person to others. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
Friend, don’t ever believe the lie of Satan that it’s too late for you to change. God desires to change us, our relationships and the world around us. (Romans 8:29) As we humbly submit ourselves into the potter’s hands and ask Him to mold us into the people He desire us to be according to His Word, He will give us the power and strength to overcome every trial, temptation and stronghold in our lives.
So be honest, what is the one area in your life that needs the most change and what will you do to start this process today?
Long-lasting change in any relationship or behavior requires several factors, or ingredients, working together to produce the results God desires. The ingredients are the same whether you are trying to improve your marriage, kick a bad habit, be a more faithful steward or follow God closer. If you focus on one area of your life that needs to change and apply these principles, you will inevitably see results over time.