Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17
Wandering from the ways of God creates a hardness of heart within us. This condition has at least two negative manifestations. The first is the tendency of those who choose to ignore sin problems or their own lack of spiritual growth because they have placed an unhealthy dependence on a previously performed spiritual commitment or religious act. In the Old Testament, there was an assumption that because someone was a child of Abraham, he or she was right with God. In the Church today, believers might proclaim they are righteous by virtue of baptism and believing right things about God. Such misdirected confidence in religious tradition causes a failure to recognize the inherent danger to the soul when one wanders from the ways of God.
The second manifestation has to do with the effort required to come back to God when one has wandered or become lukewarm. This kind of hard-heartedness can cause us to question if obedience is really worth the effort. “If I can make it to heaven without praying much, reading my Bible, witnessing, tithing, really drawing near to God…then why bother with spiritual growth?” Such rebellion resists the things of God and causes us to wander further away from Him. The outward activities, or their lack, are just a sign of an inward heart condition that has lost reverence for God.
Father, forgive me for failing to give my full attention to what concerns You. I don’t want my heart to harden in a position away from You. Soften my heart! Make me attentive to Your Spirit and Your Word. Help me to run with perseverance the race marked out for me.
–By David Butts, author of Asleep in the Land of Nod: Thirty Days of Prayer toward Awakening the Church. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.
Praise the Lord, “our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Ps. 90:1). Thank God for the security you’ve found through faith. Confess ways you’ve rejected that security this week. Commit yourself to starting each morning satisfied with God’s unfailing love (90:14). Ask how you might vary your morning routine to better begin the day with God.
Pray that Bible studies, households, and cell groups in your congregation will inspire members to deeper bonds and faith-directed action.
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