What does it mean to “fix your eyes on God” and lofty spirituality aside, how does it really help in times of trouble?
It’s a great question because at first, a heightened focus on God may seem to imply we ignore everything and everyone, living in denial of the real problems that need our very real attention.
That’s not the case so please rest in knowing you won’t find that flimsy advice here (or in the Bible). Putting on blinders isn’t just unpractical advice, it’s dangerous. God often tells us to “fear not” and reminds us that we are never alone in what we face. None of those scriptures suggest that we ignore our problems. Instead, they bring comfort to hard times by reminding us that fixing our eyes on God brings strength so we may carry on in wisdom, peace, endurance, and joy.
Fixing our eyes on God doesn’t pull us away from the real world. It builds a firm foundation for living well and overcoming obstacles.
How Does Fixing My Eyes on God Help?
Depending on your approach, it may feel productive to throw yourself into a problem and view it from every angle in order to find a solution. If we’re not careful, we can get swallowed up by the process and start creating new spin-off “what if?” scenarios that distract us from taking action. On the other hand, if circumstances feel so unpredictable and out of control that there’s no obvious starting point to a solution, it may feel safest to pull away and grow numb.
So much of this equation is determined by the stories we’ve learned about ourselves and our world, the limiting beliefs we harbor and what we hold to be true about God’s character.
No matter how we approach tumultuous times that tear away any semblance of bearings, we can rest in knowing our Creator God is both our origination point and our destination. Everything we face, the good and the bad, all have equal propensity to push and pull us toward God. It’s those hard seasons though that tend to pull us away before circling us back to God.
This is where the spiritual discipline of fixing our eyes on God comes into play.
Fixing our eyes on God allows us to stay grounded in truth and love no matter what comes our way and gives us control over our reactions. Instead of being tossed about, we can remain present and continue seeking the Great Physician, Counselor, and Comforter.
At first, I didn’t think of it as a gift and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (MSG)
How to Fix your eyes on God
Fixing your eyes on God is not a form of denial or an abstract belief system. Keeping our eyes on God doesn’t require us to ignore problems and pretend they don’t exist. Just the opposite, leaning on God empowers us right within the battle.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
Leaning on God and fixing our gaze isn’t denial. It is an impenetrable battle strategy.
What is spiritual discipline?
Spiritual disciplines are actionable activities. They are the verbs that lead us to perfected attitudes. When we live out the lessons provided by Jesus in praying alone and praying together, resisting temptation, seeking and granting forgiveness, trusting God for our needs and putting God’s will above our own, we show spiritual discipline. Regardless of how we feel on any given day, these activities provide structure, margin, and support.
Just like our approach to dealing with strife, we have options in how we discipline our lives. We can perform these activities from a softened heart with the single, solitary goal of getting closer to God or we can do them as a set of rules that lead us to a life of one-upping and judging one another. It’s important that we go about these activities for the right reasons!
Lessons From Daniel’s Prayer Life
At the time of writing this post, the world faces a pandemic that threatens internal peace and for many, dims all hope for the near future. I’m wrapping up a study of Daniel and one detail of his epic story really resonated with me this season. It is perfect for sharing here because it gives us practical support on how to fix our eyes on God in times of trouble.
In the 6th chapter of the book by his name, we’re told Daniel was one of 120 provincial governors under the rule of King Darius. Due to Daniel’s “exceptional qualities”, namely his loyalty and having the spiritual gift of interpretation, he found great favor with the king. So much so, that King Darius was planning to elevate Daniel’s status above all other local rulers.
Feeling threatened, the other governors played to King Darius’s ego and instigated a new decree that would specifically target Daniel. The law said that for the next 30 days anyone praying to any god or man, aside from the King, would be thrown in the lion’s den. I can imagine that for those 30 days, many people continued to pray quietly and contemplatively, knowing that no earthly King could control their thoughts or their heart posture. I’d definitely be in this Quiet Rebellion camp, biding my time until those 30 silly, ego-filled days passed and I could return to outward prayer and worship.
But Daniel was different. He made no changes. He bravely continued on just as he had before, refusing to let anything interrupt the disciplines that brought him peace.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. ~ Daniel 6:10 (empahasis mine)
Some commentaries say that Daniel would have knelt in the direction of his open windows, toward Jerusalem and in the direction of the temple. This would have been a sign of turning away from personal and corporate sin, fixing his eyes on God and acknowledging God as King of Kings, over even the one making this decree. Because Daniel had the spiritual discipline of prayer already in place, it acted as an anchor in these uncertain times. Though continuing on just as before was now life-threatening, Daniel got on his knees in total surrender to God’s will and gave thanks.
Daniel’s example doesn’t teach us to ignore our problems. It teaches us to stay grounded and shows us how not to elevate our problems above our peace. Whether the problem is an unjust government policy, health crisis, disruption to our routine or bare grocery store shelves, we have to make changes to daily life. At the same time, our relationship with God and the ability to keep steady depends on us continuing in life-giving spiritual disciplines just as before!
Spiritual discipline for the Christian life
It is important to build margin in our lives to protect our overall health and wellbeing. Whether you’re prone to rely solely on your own strength and burn out in times of prolonged stress or detach and go numb, enforcing spiritual discipline on yourself brings alignment. Be honest with God. Bring your tired, your poor, your yearning to breathe free(1), and invite God to show up with zealous strength!
Tools for Fixing Your Eyes on God
For the Christian, spiritual disciplines are defined as practices displayed in scripture that promote spiritual growth. I’m excited to share these practical and encouraging resources with you as ponder how to fix your eyes on God no matter what life brings you!
Worship is often associated with a specific activity or set of activities done in a specific setting. I love this reminder that worship is so much bigger and broader than that (even though I don’t have a beard or mustache!)! Check out “40 Ways to Worship God When You’re NOT at Church”.
Pray with Confidence is a fairly new site with a huge team of contributing writers. It is led by my blogging friend and top-notch, gold-star encourager, Jessie Synan. Prayer is a big topic and it is unifying to hear from so many different perspectives, all focusing on how we connect with God.
My friend and fellow blogger, Tiffany Montgomery of Hope Joy in Christ, popped in recently to share 3 Reasons You Should Fast for Spiritual Growth with Holistic Faith Lifestyle.
She’s also the author of “A Beginners Guide to Pray and Fast: Taking Spiritual Warfare to the Next Level“. In both the post and published Guide, she candidly shares her experience with fasting for spiritual growth as well as reviewing the Biblical reasons to fast. It’s a dynamic combo that connects the reader to the practice of fasting and praying and equips them to honestly consider adding the discipline their spiritual practice.
Christian Meditation & Spending Quiet Time in God’s Presence
If you’ve been hanging around HFL for even a short time, you know I’m a big proponent of Christian meditation and sitting in stillness for spiritual growth and also overall wellbeing as a human. Meditation isn’t necessary for connecting with God, but for me, it is one of the easiest, straightest paths to hearing from God. And faith journey aside, meditation has loads of benefits for our mental, emotional, physical and even social health.
Each week, I send out a new Holistic Faith Meditation in the form of a PDF. It is accessible on your mobile device and by print. My method for meditating, and what I share with you, is a brief 2-3 minute read that centers on a verse or spiritual concept followed by sitting quietly, inviting God to speak.
It is such an honor that the God of all creation does more than hear us, but also speaks through reminders of verses, inexplicable peace, joy and comfort, and promptings. Listening is a lost art but meditation helps regain this intuitive skill.
I recently created a meditation for Fixing Your Eyes on God that uses the Greek word for “stretching your gaze and focusing intently” as a centering mantra. I think you’ll find it helpful for not only building your practice, but also trading in burdensome feelings for the abundant life God created you for!
Encouragement for fixing your eyes on God
What can you do today to cement spiritual disciplines in place so that when trouble comes and especially when it lingers, you are strengthened to keep your eyes fixed on God? Tucking these verses in your heart or rewriting them as a personal prayer can be an excellent first step!
…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” ~ Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
The LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ~ NUMBERS 6:25–26
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. ~ ISAIAH 26:3–4 (ESV)
They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. ~ Psalm 78:35 (NIV)
God, I fix my eyes on you. Please send your Holy Spirit to remind me of everything I’ve come to know as truth. Grant me emboldened trust that I may be grateful for your presence no matter the situation or what the outcome may be. I bring everything to you and lay it at your feet. Give me wisdom to know where I need to act and where I need to rest, knowing that you are moving in all of it to bring goodness on the other side. Let my life bring glory to you. Amen.
As you move forward today, reflect on practical ways you can seek God in your everyday routines. What spiritual disciplines can you put in place that will strengthen you to keep your eyes fixed on God?