Friday, February 26, 2010

All Work & No Pray?

In the interest of transparency, let me share with you one of my struggles.  It's not an overt struggle, unless you know me really well, you wouldn't recognize it. In fact, even those who are close to me, may not know it. Until recently I am not sure I could have even defined it, that was until I read "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson.  There was a quote near the end of the book that resonated with my spirit. "If you work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God, there is no telling what God can do in you and through you."

This is my struggle. I am, more times than I like to admit - out of balance.  I work like it depends on me more than I pray like it depends on God.  This is not a conscious decision but one that looking back now, is clearly evident by my actions.  Don't misunderstand me, I pray - of course I pray, I am in a constant conversation with God.   I am an independent, capable, A-type personality.  Which, all pride aside, means I can pretty much push my way through any obstacle and pull myself up by my bootstraps in order to get things done.  As a result, I do not always go to God first.  I process things, use discernment, and study His word , but when it comes to relying on God's strength, I often choose to do it alone.  Again not consciously of course, but simply by not intentionally inviting Him to take the lead. In the end if all goes well or even exceptionally well, I always thank God, knowing that it is because of His working through me that I ever experience true success.  I wonder now though, how much better things would go, how much more power would be available, if I focused first and most on praying like it depends on God rather than ensuring I work like it depends on myself.  It is hard for me to admit, given my control issues, but the truth is, I can only do so much.  I am thinking that finding a better balance that falls on the side of prayer will ease at least a little of the stress and worry I put on myself.  If I do my best and leave the rest to God, than I should have no reason to worry as the results are in God's hands.  If I am focused on who I'm doing the work for, striving with all my heart to simply please God, rather than to achieve a desired result, then that would eliminate any dissatisfaction based on results. 

I've come to realize that my areas of growth specific to this unbalance are in trust and control.  I love verses 12-14 found in Chapter 14 of the book of John "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."  It says anyone who has faith [or trust] in God will do what He has been doing. Not he who works the hardest, but anyone who places their trust in Christ.  God will do whatever we ask in His name, so that it brings Him glory.  When we take control over everything and focus our efforts on what we can do, we run the risk of taking the credit, when everything we do should be to God's glory.  Indeed God often uses the weak things of the world, not necessarily the accomplished, to do His work, so that there is no mistaking that the Glory is His.  

As I reflect, I recall those moments where I, in desperation, fear or surrender, prayed earnestly to God to take over, and in those situations the sermons, events, plans and purposes were far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  Contrary to those times, when I thought I had it all together and could manage it on my own and was thus less fervent in prayer, the end results were only, just fine.

Prayer establishes what we trust in, our work or God Himself.  This does not mean that I should be apathetic in my work, indeed a holy discontent can arise within me, when I see people paralyzed in prayer, not acting within the capabilities and calling God has given them.  I will continue to work very hard at what God has called me to do, but I will be more concious to not to trust in my work or efforts, because it will never be good enough without God.  I will place my trust in and give control over to God, and watch as He does great things in and through me.

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