I’ve never been one to write fantasy, but let me give it a try: “The deadline is approaching. I’m working hard. I’m hustling and putting all of my energy into this project. Finally the day arrives. I get it done! I actually did it! Now it’s time to relax, pat myself on the back, and congratulate myself for a job well done.” What? This doesn’t sound like a very good fantasy? Let me explain.
This scenario is common enough, but there are two things missing that made this a fantasy: prayer and thanksgiving. In this fantasy world, I could do it all by myself. Surely in the Christian life there is hard work and perspiration, but we are fooling ourselves and living in an alternate reality if we ever think that we can accomplish any good thing apart from God. And while very few of us would say that we are truly self-sufficient, we often expose ourselves as living this fantasy by our lack of prayer on the front end, and our lack of thankfulness on the back end.
Here’s the point. Every time we are prayerless and thankless, we communicate to the world around us that we pulled it off all on our own. But we know from God’s word that, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Christ tells us that we are like branches, He is the vine, and “apart from [Him we] can do nothing” (John 15:5). We might prefer to live in this self-sufficient fantasy, but in reality, apart from God’s common grace, we would never do the right things or feel the right things. If I am to come to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16), then a failure to pray is a failure to live in the reality that I am needy and weak and that my flesh is “no help at all” (John 6:63). And if prayerlessness indicates that we’re living in a fantasy, then thanklessness is the sad confirmation that we’ve bought the lie. Certainly, God often gives good things despite prayerlessness, but don’t let your presumption on God’s common grace cause you to forget who is really at work.
Brothers and sisters, let us live in reality. Let us be done with fantasy worlds where we can do it all by ourselves. Let our lives be full of prayer for the accomplishing of all things. And as we are truly helped, let our mouths be full of the praise of God. Let our hearts be filled with thankfulness. As we live in this world, let us, “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2).
© Jacob Crouch 2023