Letting Go of the Illusion of Control (Psalm 37:4) - Your Daily Bible Verse - December 13
Letting Go of the Illusion of Control (Psalm 37:4)
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
Today’s Bible Verse: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
I used to think the Christian life was a very mysterious formula. I’d interpret Scripture such as Psalm 37:4 and John 14:13-14 as instructions; if I could figure them out, I’d finally have it made. I’d finally have everything I wanted, or at least thought I needed.
John 14:13-14 (ESV) Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Deep down, I knew those verses in John 14 didn’t apply to getting a pony as a child, or catching the attention of my latest crush as a teenager, or anything else petty or innately selfish. But I still believed, as I came into my adult years, that if I just prayed hard enough, my former mother-in-law would wake up from her coma. If I just prayed long enough, maybe using a particular set of Scriptures, my husband would find a new job immediately after getting laid off. If I just said the right words in the right order, my ex-husband would have a heart change and come back to our marriage.
If I just… If I just…
I put it all on me.
When I talked out that process logically, I could see the ridiculous nature of it. But that was the way my heart was operating and how my prayers were driven. I would fly in an airplane to a writer’s conference and deep down, feel that my prayers were ultimately responsible for keeping the plane in the air. I would pray with a measure of panic and guilt every time a friend or acquaintance asked me to pray for so-and-so or this-and-that. I would feel a burden of responsibility to stop everything and pray right then, because if I didn’t, something bad would happen.
At the end of the day, that type of anxiety is still pride at its root. It’s making it all about me and my effort and my ability.
It wasn’t until these last several years that God began to grow my heart out of that type of burden. I didn’t have control, I wasn’t sovereign, and no amount of praying certain ways at certain times in certain places was going to change that. I wasn’t keeping the plane in the air. I wasn’t responsible for my husband’s heart and life choices, or my mother-in-law’s health, or anything in between.
Don’t get me wrong - prayer is vital. Prayer matters! The scriptures urge us to pray—but not because the world is going to flip off its axis if we don’t. God answers prayer and uses the prayers of His people to bring about things He’s ordained and planned from before the beginning of time. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
He uses those prayers to shape us and mold us and encourage others through us. Good things are born of prayer. God gives us the desire to even pray in the first place! But ultimately, prayer is about changing our heart, not ruling the world. Prayer is about surrender, not control.
As the Psalmist says in 37:4, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, we’re being changed and shaped to be more like Christ. When the Scriptures and the things of God delight our hearts, our hearts are changed so our desires become Christ’s (not the other way around!) It’s not a reward program, or a formula. It’s a miraculous life change.
When you pray today, remember Psalm 37:4. Open your heart and ask the Lord to fill you with a fresh delight in Him. The Holy Spirit will start to mold your desires to fit His, and the things you desire will reflect God’s desires. He’ll turn those prayers into a divine cycle of generating even more delight in your heart for Him.
And that is something we could never do ourselves.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of more than fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hero of a hubby, two total-opposite young daughters, a vast collection of coffee mugs, and an impressive stash of Pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she’s not sweating it out at Camp Gladiator or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha—no whip. Look for her latest novel with Revell, The Key To Love, coming October 2020. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com.
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