Who is First in Your Life?

January 2024 is nearly over—I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by! I hope that this new year is off to a good, slow, easy, beautiful, and unhurried start for you. And I do mean that. If you know me, then you know I’m a staunch believer in following Jesus (emphasis on following) and letting him set the pace as well as lead the way. Because Jesus will always lead us the unhurried way, on the beautiful path to a beautiful life.

While I’m not a fan of NYRs (new year’s resolutions), I do aim for prioritizing my life God’s way, and leading a more thoughtful, intentional, and listening life—which is not easy to do in a culture that’s aimed at distracting us and demanding that we hustle…hurry up, do more, set more goals and produce more…whatever. Nothing wrong with goals unless your goals are all you’re focused on.

So, I have a thought—one big thought I want to share with you, along with a few things to consider, and some decisions to make as you follow Jesus through this next year. Here we go…

What if you prayed faithfully, daily, for one year to put God first… what do you think your life would look like?

Think that through. Putting God first is not just a novel idea; it’s a command. And Jesus said it’s the most important—the greatest—command in all of Scripture: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36-38). In essence Jesus is telling us that you and I are to love God first, most, and best- with all that we are and all that we have.

Begs the question: Do I?

Do you?

It’s not natural to love God or anybody else first, most, and best. What’s natural for you and me is to love ourselves first… and we are outstanding in that effort, aren’t we?

As I thought this through it made me wonder, as Christ’s follower, shouldn’t I be continually asking for this—to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind? Isn’t that the response we should have? (It is.) Since it does not come naturally to do the most important thing God has commanded me to do, I clearly need some supernatural help—by the power of the Holy Spirit—to do so. Because if God’s Word says to do something, we are to pray for the Help to do it…and then actually do it.

So, we ask for the Help we need to do what God’s commanded us to do. About ten years ago I made this my prayer; I wrote it out and I prayed it every day for that year, and it has stuck with me ever since.

God wants to be—no, he commands us to make Him, first in our lives. Our #1 priority. And whatever we place first, of most importance in our lives, sets the pace and establishes the trajectory for our whole life. What we put first, love most, and think about most shapes and molds us. What we place as central in our lives pulls everything else in line with it, right or wrong. As A. W. Tozer so marvelously stated, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.”

God has not suggested but commanded us to love Him first because only our loving Father always leads us the right way. The best way. His promise is that when we prioritize Him everything else we need will be given to us at the right time, in the right way (Matthew 6:33).

So, yes, loving God first is a supernatural pursuit empowered by the Holy Spirit of God Himself in us, willing us to choose Him first; activated by our response (obedience) to God in His Word, through prayer, and in our intentional and intimate pursuit of Him.

How do we do this, practically speaking? If I’m reading God’s Word I listen to what He’s saying there. I ask Him, “Show me who You are, Lord; what do You want me to know about You in this passage?” I write down what He’s saying to me there in the Scripture, and what He prompts my heart with. And if I find there’s a command to obey, a sin to avoid, a prayer to pray, a promise for me to believe, etc., then it makes sense that God wants exactly that for me. So, I ask Him for it. I ask/pray to receive what God is showing me, saying to me right there on the pages of Scripture. My asking then activates the Holy Spirit who empowers me to know God better (Ephesians 1:17), and to be who God has created me to be, and then to do what God has called me to do.

Remember this: When God’s Word says to…then pray to.

Let’s start with this: Make it your aim to start now, pray daily, faithfully, throughout this year, to put God first. Here’s what I’ve prayed, and I you can adapt it for your own:

“Lord, give me a heart to love YOU more than anything or anyone, and to desire nothing on this earth as much or more than I desire YOU. In Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen.”

As you read, study, meditate on, and pray God’s Word you’ll come to know God better. The better you know Him the more you’ll grow in love with Him. Ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking…and you will find Him to be everything your heart desires (Matthew 7:7, my paraphrase).

Will you try this? Take my prayer or write out your own version of Matthew 22:37, print it on a 3×5 card, and pray it daily over the next year: You’ll be amazed at what the Lord does in your life when you make Him #PriorityOne.

I leave you with this beautiful lyric from the Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision, written by St. Dallán Forgaill, and translated by Mary Byrne, 1905 (Lyrics and link to the full hymn are below).

Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art

You are greatly and dearly loved by The King!

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all