Previously, we looked at three ways to take small steps consistently: 1) Set Goals, 2) Have a System, and 3) Get in the Lab. In the next three posts, we’ll be exploring practical ways to depend on grace constantly.
In this post, I want to talk about building habits of dependence. I’ll be highlighting two such habits in particular: prayer and reading God’s Word.
These practices go by many names, each emphasizing a different aspect of why they’re beneficial for our souls. For example:
- “Devotions” emphasizes how these practices express our devotion to God and cultivate our relationship with him.
- “Spiritual Disciplines” emphasize how consistent time with God produces steady growth in our faith and character.
- “Means of Grace” emphasizes how these practices are channels by which we receive God’s sustaining, empowering grace.
What does calling these practices “habits of dependence” emphasize? That the habits of prayer and bible-reading are ways for us to daily rely on God for strength, provision, and guidance.
“Our Father in Heaven…Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt 6:9, 11)
Daily prayer humbles us before our Heavenly Father. We often become inflated in our own eyes, but the Lord’s prayer remind us that God is big and majestic and we are small and dependent. Life is about his glory and kingdom, not ours.
Prayer not only reminds us that we are dependent creatures. Through prayer, we actively depend on God. We ask him for daily provision of our needs, forgiveness, and help to battle against sin.
“Man shall not live by bread alone” (Lk 4:4)
Through prayer, we refocus our hearts on God and lift our needs to him. Through his Word, we hear his voice. God’s Word teaches us about who he is and what he has done for us. It gives us practical principles on how we can live our lives in response to the Gospel and in obedience to God.
This is why I placed “habits of dependence” in the first stage of the 3 stages of productivity — because prayer and bible intake shape everything else we do.
Why We Need Habits of Dependence
This is nothing new or groundbreaking; we know the importance of the spiritual disciplines as Christians. But why are these practices important from a productivity perspective?
Habits of dependence guard us from pride and self-reliance.
Many of us struggle mightily with productivity. It is one of the main areas where we feel an active, pressing need to depend on God.
But what would happen if we became productive? If we put efficient systems in place and built up our self-discipline, to the point where no longer struggled with managing our time or getting work done?
Would we find we no longer need God? Would we trust in our ability to accomplish whatever we want through ingenuity and hard work? Habits of dependence guard us from that temptation.
Our first step in pursuing productivity must be to build the habit of daily asking God for help. So that when we do become productive, we will not be proud. Rather, we will give thanks to the One who provides us with past and present strength (1 Tim 1:12).
Habits of dependence remind us we never outgrow our need for God
If we were only seeking to manage our time well, perhaps we could be productive without God. But true productivity, the kind that honors God and serves our neighbors, always requires his help:
- We pray because only God can bring a lost soul to see the beauty of Jesus
- We pray because only God can comfort a fellow believer struggling through a painful season..
- We read because without daily reminders we’ll lose sight of God’s promises and become distracted by worldly pleasures.
There will be many times when the habits of dependence feel unproductive because they don’t produce immediate, tangible results. It is easy to feel like we have more pressing matters to attend to.
But habits of dependence are the most productive habits we can build. Why? Because we can only see clearly and live wisely when we are dependent on God’s grace and humble before him.
I hope to write more about the practical details of reading God’s Word and praying in the future. Stay tuned!