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A Praying Life, Chapter 6

Chapter 6: "Learning to be Helpless" | Week of April 15, 2018

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

(Matthew 11:28–30, The Message)


Chapter 6 of A Praying Life radically redefines how we normally think of maturity. "We tell ourselves, 'Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I'd pray more.' Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are." (Page 44) Our temptation is to think we're in charge of our maturing process as Christians, but as we saw in last week's chapter, the thing that counts is recognizing and leaning into our dependence upon God.

"As we mature as Christians, we see more and more of our sinful natures, but at the same time we see more and more of Jesus. As we see our weaknesses more clearly, we begin to grasp our need for more grace." (Page 44) Miller goes on to suggest that the smaller we see the problem of sin – in our lives and in the world – the smaller our understanding of who Jesus is and what he really offers. Maturity, then, is recognizing how desperately we need Jesus to not only deal with our sin, but provide us with the strength we need to grow in holiness.

While we don't usually use The Message translation of the Bible at Daybreak, the citation above rephrases a familiar passage in a fresh way that (hopefully) helps us recognize the error of trying to be Christlike in our own strength. Tim Keller, in his book, Prodigal God, makes the argument that we don't only sin by rebelliously doing what we want (like the younger son in Jesus' parable in Luke 15) but also by thinking we can please God through our own effort (like the older brother). Jesus offers a third way: trust the goodness of our heavenly Father and lean into Jesus, our loving Brother, to help us live lives saturated in grace. 


Miller makes a bold statement in this chapter: "Paradoxically, you get holier while you are feeling less holy. The very thing you were trying to escape – your inability – opens the door to prayer and then grace." (Page 47) Spend some time thinking about the areas of your life that feel most challenging or overwhelming to you. Are you working on those situations out of our own strength, or even out of a sense of duty to "not let God down" by your actions? As you identify at least one area where this is a constant temptation, spend a minute imagining that burden as an actual weight you are carrying, and how it might feel to drop it at Jesus' feet and let him carry it. 


Talk to God about laying that burden at Jesus' feet. Ask him to help you know how to do that. Ask him to help you see how it would feel to live in "unforced rhythms of grace" that not only give you proper perspective on your own sin, but also on how big God is to deal with it in a merciful, loving and powerful way. Ask God for freedom from the burden you bear, and follow Jesus' example of confident dependence on your heavenly Father.  


Pastor Sean announced his upcoming sabbatical on Sunday, which will begin in May. The purpose of a sabbatical for pastors is spiritual renewal and refreshment, not only for their own spiritual and physical health, but to ensure that they lead out of the strength God provides rather than their own. Our elders are excited for deep renewal and rest for the Palmer family. Please pray with us this week that the sabbatical will be a genuine blessing for their family, as well as for Daybreak as we trust God to continue working among us in their absence. 


Talk to your kids about the idea of the Sabbath in the Bible. You can either read Genesis 1 together, or perhaps you can talk about the Ten Commandments. By taking a sabbath, we show our trust that God's work is ongoing in the world. Pray with your kids about trusting that God will be loving and good, and ask for their trust in him to grow.

Tags : prayer, devotional