We may not think about it much, but we depend on God for everything.
As Reformed Christians, we are familiar with the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. This truth comforts us in our distresses and encourages us in our decision-making. But knowing something intellectually isn’t the same as recognizing and applying it in our everyday lives. The reality is that God’s sovereignty encompasses not just the events that happen in our lives, not just the salvation that makes us His, but also the in-betweens and the mundane moments and the spiritual needs we encounter.
We need Him. For everything. We need Him to give us strength to get out of bed every morning. We need Him to feed us as we eat our physical and spiritual food. We need His help to persevere in our faith. Here at the Chapel, we need Him to evangelize, to participate in the programs, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Micah, who came on staff for a couple weeks this summer, remarked on something he appreciates about the Chapel. “You see God being active. You see how people hate God, and you see how the faithful Christian loves God. And that God answers prayers,” he added. “I think so often in our lives it’s easy to live in a very similar way to the unbeliever, and not see how our lives are radically changed by Christ. But when you’re here, you have to rely on Him. You have to depend on Him, or you’ll be utterly spiritually exhausted the whole time through and it’ll be a miserable experience. And so I really appreciate that God is here for us.”
He gives us strength.
And He’ll give you strength.
Here at the Chapel, we particularly need God for evangelism. To go out in one’s own strength is to go out in weakness. But to go out recognizing our weakness, our dependence, is to go out in grace. And His grace is sufficient, His grace is in fact made perfect in weakness.
Elizabeth, who came for our training weeks, shared about one time at the Chapel when she had been seeking the Lord in prayer regarding evangelism, and she saw him answer abundantly in that night’s work. “The Lord was answering prayers! And just realizing: it’s not at all me, it’s not at all my ability or thought, it was just the Lord working. And how we need to rely on the Lord, and we need to trust him. He is faithful.”
We need Him for faith. We need Him for breath. And we need Him for prayer—prayer is the breath of the Christian.
“My favorite part with the evangelism was the degree to which people were willing to pray and rely on prayer for the power of evangelism,” said Decker, who came with a church group for one of our apologetics training weeks. “In the past when I’ve done evangelism, cold evangelism like this, I haven’t prayed that much. And when we went out, we prayed beforehand. We prayed before we had conversations with specific people. When half the group went over and talked to somebody, we prayed while they were talking. After they came back, we prayed about the conversation that they specifically had. And then, when we got back to home base, we prayed about all the conversations that we had had again. And that just aligns with what we believe about how people come to faith. And the working of the Spirit, and God’s power to change the hearts of people—not our power to change the hearts of people. And so that was one of my favorite parts about the Boardwalk Chapel, was just the emphasis on prayer during evangelism, and the outward getting there about what we believe about how peoples’ hearts are changed. A reliance on God and the Holy Spirit to change peoples’ hearts.”
Without God’s work, hearts aren’t changed. Without God’s work, our hearts fail. We stumble in our weakness, we taste our inadequacy and our fear and our faithlessness. We have to praise Him because so often, God doesn’t just use evangelism in the hearts of the unregenerate, but also in the hearts of we who are sharing our faith. The saved need the Gospel just as much as the lost. Our dependence on Him is something to praise Him for. It’s not a bad thing to acknowledge our need. Our need to feel His presence, our need to know He’s holding onto us.
To know the strength of His grip.
We don’t just pray because we want him to meet our needs, we pray because one of our greatest needs is to talk to Him. He knows we need to pray. So he helps us to pray. He helps us to evangelize. He helps us to live, to move, to have our being not in ourselves, but in Him.
We are utterly dependent on Him.
And when we’re falling and failing, He holds us up.