Think about the ways that being independent gets sewn into your life. It happens in school from the first day you go to Kindergarten. It happens in business as you learn to promote yourself and advance your career. It happens as you move away from home and take responsibility for things your parents used to do for you.
But after all those lessons in becoming independent, you have to live in the opposite direction. For most of us, the first big lesson happens in marriage. We discover the limits of self-reliance and the beauty of a collaborative, loving relationship with someone else.
But the greatest lesson in dependent living is the one we learn as a child of God. Jesus said:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5 (NIV)
Abiding in Christ means that you depend on Him in every corner of your life. That happens most readily through prayer. Bill Hybels said it this way:
From birth we have been learning the rules of self-reliance as we strain and struggle to achieve self-sufficiency. Prayer flies in the face of those deep-seated values. It is an assault on human autonomy, an indictment of independent living. To people in the fast lane, determined to make it on their own, prayer is an embarrassing interruption.
Interruption or not, prayer is the indispensable ingredient in any relationship with a communicating God. Without it, the faith relationship breaks down and your independence asserts itself once more. To break the chains of self-reliance and self-sufficiency:
- Start your day with prayer. Confess your sins before God and commit to an attitude of worship and Spirit-sensitivity throughout the day. Taking that simple step at the start helps build a supernatural perspective for the daily grind.
- Live with God-reliance vs. self-reliance. Approach your daily routine with healthy skepticism about old habits and tendencies. Ask key questions to keep the proper perspective for living a life on mission for God. Pray short prayers throughout the day, asking God to help in both the big and small things.
- Consider the source of every decision you make. Are you making decisions with human wisdom, knowledge and motivation, or is a supernatural God transforming and directing your life? Remember that prayer and meditation is not an interruption, it’s at the heart of your relationship with a communicating God.
- Acknowledge your inadequacy at every turn. Demonstrate humility and servant leadership, remembering that God is holy and you are not. Believers are not meant to operate independently from the sustaining presence of their God. Your humble words and actions make that task a lot easier.
So what’s the Big Idea?
Live with God-reliance vs. self-reliance in every aspect of your life. The key is regular communication with God in the big and small things of life. That unnatural activity pushes self-reliance to the side and leads you to embrace total dependence on an eternally faithful God.
- Prayer by Timothy Keller
- Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels
- “Make Prayer Part of Your Daily Routine” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
- “Live an Everyday Life on Mission” on Serve. Grow. Lead.
- Greg Frizzell Ministries
- The Praying Life Foundation
Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God (10th Anniversary Edition, Revised and Expanded), 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 9.