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“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God” (Psa. 17:6).

“I don’t like limits,” my 12 year old said in response to the pediatrician’s suggestions regarding screen time. The pediatrician was taken aback but responded professionally. She said she understood how people (like my child) who struggle with anxiety like to feel like they are in control of things. Limits – set by others – can be perceived as restrictions, which affect our ability to control any given situation.

I found the pediatrician’s words to be remarkably insightful – and helpful to both my child and me. As a parent trying to help my child work through anxiety, and as a person who also suffers from it, I know how crippling anxiety can be.

But as I reflected on the conversation, the Lord showed me something else that was crippling: the need to “feel” in control. It may be augmented in anxious people, but don’t we all like to think we are in control?

We are born into a world that cruelly tricks us into thinking we actually CAN control our lives, our homes, our careers, our finances, our schedules, our relationships, our health…and even worse, that we are entitled to be in control of all of it. When things go wrong in our lives, our jobs, our bodies – when we have trouble (and we will), we despair. We feel anxious. It’s terribly dispiriting to discover something we thought we controlled is beyond our control; that actually, we never did (or could) control it.

As we begin our In the Garden prayer study, the Lord is showing me that I have control issues too. I don’t like limits. I don’t want to limit “my” time at night so that I can get up early to spend time with Him. I don’t want to fully surrender “my” life because, if I’m truly honest, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don’t want to fully surrender because, somewhere in my heart, I feel like I know what is best for me.

Actually the Lord is showing me an even uglier truth: my need for control is an idol. It replaces my need for Him and prevents me from truly seeing Him as sovereign.

As Laurie said last week, there is worldliness in all of us. It’s inescapable. Our sin nature – our flesh – identifies with the world, is pulled by the world, lulled by the world, lied to by the world. Only time with our heavenly Father recalibrates us. Time in His Word. Time in prayer.

My prayer life is not what I want it to be. I confess this. I praise God that I can pour out my heart to Him, and that He will hear me. I praise God for the In the Garden study because I can re-learn the basics and beauty of an intentional prayer life. I need this study!

Dear heavenly Father, I praise you as my sovereign Lord. You are God and I am not. Your ways are not my ways. Help me to know your ways are always best.

Thank you for loving me, a weak sinner with a wandering heart. Give me a desire for you.

Give me the faith to see you alone as sovereign. Help me keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus, not on myself, my circumstances, or the world.

Lord, I confess my desire for control. I confess my dislike for limits. Grant me the faith to fully surrender to you.

May you alone be glorified as I seek your face in this new prayer study.

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17 NIV).

Growing in Grace

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