A short, helpful article on prayer was forwarded to me today; one sentence, though, gave me pause with this fairly common idea:
Here is the balance to which we must strive: to pray as if it all depends upon God and to work as if it all depends upon us.
I would like to contend that, although this idea seems good and Biblical, it is inconsistent and therefore should be replaced with this one: pray as if it all depends on God and work as if it all depends on God.
God’s Word clearly proclaims the sovereignty of our Creator. It nowhere demands that we labor in the kingdom as if everything depended upon us; to do so would be to affirm one thing theologically and yet to deny it by our lives and attitudes. The spirit behind the idea is probably a great one, desiring that God’s people live with earnest for the glory of Christ – but it ultimately falls flat because it is sub-Biblical.
If God is sovereign, we ought to affirm that in our lives as well as our prayers. The doctrine of Christ’s perfect reign over creation should result in more, not less, earnestness in holy living, more zealous evangelism. The fact that those who believe God’s sovereignty often fail in earnestness and zeal means that we need to live like we believe, not believe one thing (God’s sovereignty) and live another (behavioral Arminianism).
The solution is to believe that God is sovereign over all and then to live like God is sovereign over all. What this will do is give us ridiculous, unlimited amounts of confidence. It will keep us from pride, from believing that Christ’s kingdom depends on me and my efforts. It will allow us to serve with gratitude and love rather than abject servitude and fear (what if I fail? How will the kingdom come then?). So, let’s pray as if it all depends on God and let’s live as if it all depends on God.
I'd again like to say that it was a very fine article that will give the reader much profit and encouragement. Please read the "comment" section where Rev. Ortiz has graciously responded. In the end, the disagreement is slight; hopefully, the point will have been to encourage us all to prayer and zealous living.