Years ago, God asked me to say four short prayers as often as I thought of them: ‘open my eyes,’ ‘enlarge my heart,’ ‘use me’ and ‘rescue me’. I have prayed them literally thousands of times as I go through my day, while sitting in planning meetings, counseling leaders or congregants, and even while teaching. Though short and simple, God has used each of the four prayers to help guide and grow me as a leader. In this series of posts, I’m writing in depth about each prayer. I encourage you to pick up God’s challenge to me by committing to pray each new prayer as often as you think of it.  Today we will dig into the second: enlarge my heart.

Enlarge my heart

The pace and hardship of life has a way of tempting us to live without much heart. As leaders, we have a constant to-do list, with endless demands on our time and energy. Leadership pressure easily erodes a heart for God. This happened to the church in Ephesus — look at Jesus’ words to them in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 2:1–4 –“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

They had accomplished much for God, but had neglected their heart for God. The prayer ‘enlarge my heart’ begs God to protect our hearts from atrophy, neglect and corrosion.

Enlarge my heart for God.

The size of our heart is determined by what it holds. If we allow small, trivial things into our hearts, they shrink accordingly. When we ask God to enlarge our hearts, we are ultimately asking Him to help us love Him more and to receive the fullness of the love He offers us. When our hearts are large, we can live in the pace and pressure of leadership in a healthy way.

Enlarge my heart for people.

As we ask God to enlarge our hearts, He teaches us to make room in our hearts for other people’s pain, stories and journey. Leaders with large hearts do not use people but rather love them with the love of God. A heart grown through prayer has space for the things of God, including the intentional and unconditional love of His people.

Enlarge my heart to allow no small things.

When we allow sin like bitterness, unforgiveness or idolatry into our hearts, it makes our hearts small. When we ask God to enlarge our hearts, we are asking Him to create a distaste for small things. A large heart will be left unfulfilled by trivial ideas and experiences, creating a hunger satiated only by the vast love of God.