Freedom from the tyranny of the urgent is found in the example and promise of our Lord. At the end of a vigorous debate with the Pharisees in Jerusalem, Jesus said to those who believed in Him: “If you continue in My Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free… Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin…So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-36).
Many of us have experienced Christ’s deliverance from the penalty of sin. Are we letting Him free us from the tyranny of the urgent? He points the way: “If you continue in My Word.” This is the way to freedom. Through prayerful meditation on God’s Word we gain His perspective.
P.T. Forsyth once said, “The worst sin is prayerlessness.” We usually think of murder, adultery, or theft as among the worst. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency—independence from God. When we fail to wait prayerfully for God’s guidance and strength we are saying, with our actions, if not our lips, that we do not need Him. How much of our service is characterized by “going it alone”?
The opposite of such independence is prayer in which we acknowledge our need for God’s instruction and supply. Concerning a dependent relationship with God, Donald Baillie says: “Jesus lived His life in complete dependence upon God, as we all ought to live our lives. But such dependence does not destroy human personality. Man is never so truly and fully personal as when he is living in complete dependence upon God. This is how personality comes into its own. This is humanity at its most personal.”
Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He want us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come form the God who knows our limitation. “The Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14). It is not God who loads us until we bend or crack with an ulcer, nervous breakdown, heart attack, or stroke. These come from our inner compulsions coupled with the pressure of circumstances.
Copyright 1967 by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Reprinted by permission of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Il 60515