Pray First – Soul
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. -Psalm 84:1-2
There is nothing like a baby saying their first words. We have coached them, communicated to them the best way we know how, and even begged them to speak a word…any word. “Say mama," we beg. “Dada," we urge. Even “night-night” would bring a tear to our eyes. But the day finally arrives, and they say it. “No!” they scream. While it wasn’t quite what we had in mind, we’ll take it. Having children and grandchildren repeat back to us what we have taught them is a gratifying experience. It’s like receiving an emotional dividend on what we have sown into them physically. If we as humans feel elated at the utterance of a coherent word, can you imagine the joy our heavenly father experiences when we give back to Him what He has given to us? Encounters like these are the ingredients of a deep lasting relationship.
Giving back to the Lord what He has given to us is how we love the Lord with our soul. In Mark 12:30, the evangelist Mark urges believers to love the Lord with various parts of their being, the heart, soul, mind, and strength. However, it is the soul that seems to be the most misunderstood element.
The word soul in this passage is the vital breath of life. It is the aftermath of God’s breathing into His unique creation called humans. This soul is life, the seat of our affections, and the root of our identity. Loving the Lord with our soul would be equivalent to repeating back to God what He has given to us, all of us.
But how do we give us back to God? It’s as simple as the words of the baby. “Dada” is our reply to our creator God.
Our first heroes and heroines are our parents, even before we see them. They are the ones that have been tracking our journey from mom’s nausea to dad’s night feedings. Isn’t that what the Lord was saying to Jeremiah when He said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (Jeremiah 1:5)? Since our Father God has been there since our beginning, it only seems right that we owe Him our breath.
Our breath of praise, worship, and adoration would be a great example of how we can love the Lord with our soul. Lifting the Lord with words of praise that originate from the seat of our affections and communicating our personal testimony in appreciation of “Dada.” Paul says it this way; “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Since it is with our soul that we know Him, let us use our soul to show Him our appreciation for Him. Love the Lord with your soul.
Father, today as I reminisce on the days of my spiritual youth, I celebrate the deep relationship that we share. Your patience and long-suffering with me is unbelievable. Your love for me is unexplainable. And Your plans for me are remarkable. Keep at the forefront of my mind the blessing of Your presence. You have shaped me, formed me, and breathed into me the breath of life. Grant me the wisdom and the opportunities to share my appreciation to You by loving You with my soul.
How is your soul? Do you feel fresh and anew in 2023, still sticking to your new year's resolutions? Or are you already downcast due to a failed relationship or a difficult work situation? Wherever you find yourself, do you truly believe He is with you? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to lead your soul in joy and worship? At the core, are your desires aligned with your flesh or your Savior? When Jesus calls do you answer? Is your response to Him "Father, Your will be done" or is it the quick, rebellious "no" of a child? Are you at rest? Do you trust the safety of His arms? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to use you as a vessel?
Practical Life Application
Lift up your eyes. Look to where your help comes from. Remember how the Lord has delivered you in the past. Write down the reasons your soul should rejoice. After you take note, choose joy. Smile. Laugh. Love. Anytime you feel downcast, stop whatever you are doing and go to the Father. Pray. Worship. Rest. Loving the Lord with your soul means devoting every aspect of your life to Him. Ask the Lord to tear down any internal walls that keep your soul from fully being attentive and agreeable to the Holy Spirit. Set reminders on your phone to walk outside, count your blessings, and admire His creation. Picture Jesus in the passenger seat as you drive to work. Take a lunch break and talk to Him like you would a friend or colleague, but don't just talk. Listen to Him and be willing to fully surrender.