Two Weeks of Praying Grace

Devotional

Escape the “Try Harder” Trap


There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9–10 NIV)

It has been said that the last 2,000 years of teaching and preaching on how to successfully live the Christian life and please God could actually be encapsulated in a simple two-word exhortation:


Try harder.


Do you keep stumbling over the same sin or habit? Try harder. Are you struggling to love unlovely and obnoxious people? Try harder. Failing time and again to rise an hour early for prayer and Bible reading? Try harder. Not giving enough? Serving enough? Witnessing enough? Attending church services enough? Try harder.


You know the prescription. Bear down. Double up. Lather, rinse, repeat—in an endless, frustrating, shame-soaked cycle of defeat and failure that robs you of your confidence before God and keeps you feeling like the only Christian in the world who isn’t properly doing all the things.


None of that sounds very restful, does it? Yet, rest is precisely what we are called to in Jesus; particularly, rest from striving and straining to earn God’s approval.


The fact is, God sent Jesus so we could become restful human beings, not busy human doings. God paid an enormous price and lavished His grace upon us to restore us—not to good behavior—but to Himself, to reconnect us to the Source of life and love.


When you live and rest in that connection, all those other good and noble things overflow out of your life organically and effortlessly. Witnessing? The peace, joy, and confidence that shines from you when you rest in Him becomes an irresistible beacon to the lost and hurting. Love? When you are secure in God’s love and acceptance, you become unoffendable, and naturally capable of more patience and grace than you thought possible.


We have all tried the “try harder” approach. It doesn’t work. Grace does.


Prayer of Declaration:


Heavenly Father, I cease from my futile labors. I no longer strive to earn what I cannot possibly earn, to merit what I will never deserve. Instead, I rejoice and rest in my connection to You through Your Son. He is the vine, and I am a connected branch.


I declare today that in Jesus, Your love, Your power, Your goodness, and Your empowering grace all flow through me—producing fruit naturally, and shaping my desires and appetites.


Good and noble things overflow out of my life organically and effortlessly. Peace, joy, and confidence shine from me, making me an irresistible beacon to the lost and hurting. Because I am absolutely secure in Your love and acceptance, I am unoffendable, patient, and full of grace for others. For me, every day is a day of Sabbath rest.