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Thu Sep 11, 2014
Cultivating Dependence on God
I appreciate Jack Deere’s paraphrase of John 17:26. “Father, grant me power from the Holy Spirit to love the Son of God like you love him.”
This must be our heart’s cry.
Depending on God through fasting
In addition to prayer, there are many other practices that cultivate dependence on God. One is fasting. Jesus calls us to fast in private, and he calls us to pray in private (Matthew 6:16-18). Note that our Lord says when you fast, not if you fast (v. 16). Implication: you should fast.
Fasting is a very helpful way to reduce distractions, focus on God, and cultivate a sense of dependence on him. Fasting is a way of sacrificing physical nourishment to seek spiritual nourishment. Start with a meal that you forsake in order to read and meditate on Scripture. Progress to taking a day where you use all meal times to read, pray, and enjoy fellowship with other believers. Don't make it too complicated; just plan it and do it.
Depending on God through meditation
Another helpful practice is meditation. I define meditation as thinking about and asking questions about what God has said in Scripture in order to hear how God is guiding us in our lives. Meditation allows the Holy Spirit to speak the truth of Scripture into our lives during our private devotions and reading of the Bible. I am not a guy who just starts praying and ends up in spiritual ecstasy. I need God's Word to break up the hard soil of my heart and open it up to the reality of God in my life. I use Scripture to guide me into prayer.
Mediation is turning God's Word into prayer.
Cultivating dependence on God
There are other practices that can help us cultivate dependence on God, such as memorizing Scripture, worshiping in private, taking a Sabbath rest, and serving others. Our focus should not be on what we are doing, but on realizing the reality of our nearness to God. “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3).
When we focus on a list of practices, we can become legalistic, focusing either on how well we are doing or how poorly we are doing, and we miss the whole point. Besides, different people will find different practices helpful, so each of us must learn how to best cultivate dependence on the Holy Spirit for ourselves.
There is no formula: our goal should be simply to cultivate more of a dependence on God in our lives.
This post is adapted from Darrin Patrick's book Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission, available now.