• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Fierce Independence

As we begin a global conversation on the book, A Praying Life, I encourage you to read or re-read the first five chapters.  Each Monday, I and others will share questions, insights and thoughts about a chapter or section of the book that we hope will encourage this dialogue between us.  I hope you will join us.

In the very first chapter, we read these comments by Paul Miller:

We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable.  We prize accomplishments, production.  But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless, as if we are wasting time.  Every bone in our bodies screams, “Get to work”

If we try to be quiet, we are assaulted by what C.S. Lewis called “the Kingdom of Noise.”  Everywhere we go we hear background noise. If the noise isn’t provided for us, we can bring our own via iPod … 

One of the subtlest hindrances to prayer is probably the most pervasive. In the broader culture and in our churches, we prize intellect, competency, and wealth.  Because we can do life without God, praying seems nice but unnecessary.  Money can do what prayer does, and it is quicker and less time-consuming. Our trust in ourselves and in our talents makes us structurally independent of God.  As a result, exhortations to pray don’t stick.”

This “fierce independence” that Paul Miller describes is what caught my attention (and what I chose to underline).  A couple of questions to get us talking,

  • Describe what “structural independence” from God looks like in your life?  In your prayer life?
  • How can you (we) counter this fierce independence in such a way as to “slow down to pray” and learn a fervent dependence?

6 Responses

  1. Another kind of “noise” that can create a sinful independence from the utter need for us to be dependent on God is the wrong kind of dependence on marketing technics especially in the areas of evangelism, Christian education, and fund raising.

    I am a strong believer that we lack proper diligence when we neglect applying those laws of human behavior that our Creator Himself created called “marketing.” But I was shocked when a Christian student doing a master’s program in a Christian university told me that he could produce the results we wanted without prayer just by applying the principles of marketing insights. I knew his professors, and none of them taught that or believed that; yet, that was his opinion after studying marketing. Our dependence must be totally on God’s supernatural intervention knowing that without Christ we can do nothing.

    No matter how much we think we know or how great our experience and past success might be, we are all apart from God’s grace incompetent. The apostle said it well in II Cor. 3: 4-6.
    “Such confidence we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

    • Thank you Ed for this reminder in line with what we are reading in A Praying Life. Learning to move from independence to dependence is nothing short of a “miracle” accomplished only by God’s work in our hearts.

  2. I am grateful to be living in an environment of chaos and ambiguity. God is using it to destroy my functional independence from God and revitalize my walk in humble dependence upon the Holy Spirit. More often than not the plan of the day or meeting does not materialize and I begin to wonder if it is simply a waste of time and then I remember that God is present and at work. I am learning to bow my heart and listen for what God is doing. Often I go home and tell Janet that what took place far exceeded what I thought was going to happen or should happen.

    When I worked out of the Warrington Office things usually went as planned. Yes I prayed for God’s direction and blessing, but I felt much more in control. Now that I am much less in control, I am discovering how much more God is in control.

    • Many of us can relate to what you shared. May God give us “listening hearts” to hear Him as He speaks to us in the midst of all the chaos. Tim Keller, in one of his talks at Cape Town, said that urban ministers must be “constantly open to disorder and change”. When we are not in “control”, God comes to demonstrate/display His control and power to work in us and through us.

      • I can so relate to these thoughts – things rarely go as planned in ministry or daily life in Cambodia – as a “reformed” daily planner…this can be a challenge. Just this morning i was reminded from Ch. 6 in the book about how i have to come to prayer in “helplessness” – that perfectly describes my walk here, i have to be at the end of myself daily in order to truly learn how to live out of weakness. Any chance that Tim Keller talk is also avialable online?

      • You can look on the lausanne.org website and follow the prompts to see the videos. Tim Keller spoke on Wednesday PM (Oct 20th) during the Plenary #3 session on God at Work in the World through His Church. You should be able to find it in that evening session. If not, let me know and I’ll see if I can download it and send it.

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