If we look at the two Great Commandments which appear in Matthew 22:37-40 and Luke 10:27 as the summary of all the New Testament teachings, we see that we are to love God with all of ourselves—heart, mind soul and strength–and to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we do that? This is an impossible task for us inconsistent humans. We can’t. Only God can transform us from the inside-out, so that we can love God, our neighbor and ourselves, once we have made the commitment to do so.
So if God is doing the heavy lifting of transforming us to be loving individuals, what is our job? First, we make the commitment to love God above all else. Then, and only then. can God begin that transformation process which may take a lifetime to complete. Our part in the process, once we’ve made the commitment, is to be vigilant in offering up to God all the things that put God second or third or tenth or last in our lives. This is where the practice of setting intentions comes in. I believe that God somehow “highlights” these blocks in us, calling us to set intentions about them; when we do, we invite the Spirit into that area of our lives to transform it.
For example, if you are preoccupied about your weight like many of us, this is a problem that stands between you and God. It’s our culture which creates this obsession, but we could surmise that God wants us to take care of our bodies so that we have a healthy “vehicle” to carry us through our lives. Does God want us all to be size 2’s or to look like the Hulk? I don’t think so. But if this is your obsession/preoccupation and it takes your attention away from God, then this is an area for intention. Think about how your would express this intention: I want to be healthy, I want my body to function at its best, something along these lines. Offer that up to God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Setting an intention is all you have to do. God has called you to a healthier you, you have aligned your will with God’s will. The Holy Spirit will make the intention real in you. Watch over time how your relationship to food changes, how you think differently about your body, how what bugged you before no longer is an obsession. Try this with any mistakes, failures, preoccupations, blocks—anything that gets between you and God. You set an intention in a positive way, noting the outcome you desire, God does all the transformative work.
As you practice setting intentions, you’ll be aiding God by removing the walls around certain issues, maybe trauma or abuse or shame from the past, inviting the Spirit in to transform these areas. We can refuse to let the Spirit into places of our lives where hopelessness or shame or fear dwells. In those cases God needs our permission to enter in with his healing power.
Setting intentions is a powerful spiritual practice that will bring much healing and love and grace and blessings into your life. As you gain experience in this practice, setting intentions about everything that comes up for you that makes you uncomfortable or is “off the mark”(the meaning of the Hebrew word we translate as “sin”), you may at any moment have a number of intentions in process. This is how we can participate in God’s transforming work.