25th March 2023

Permission to act

I love having many translations of the Bible at my fingertips. In the past, one would need a large library to hold all of them, along with devotionals and books about the Bible, but now they are available on apps, often for free. Besides different versions of the Bible, a popular app I use also has devotionals, including videos and reading plans. I may have to stop reading them though, because of the language the writers use. No, not that kind of language.

The readings and the prayers contain phrases such as, give God permission to do this or that; allow God to speak; let God do something or other. I have a problem with this kind of verbiage as it implies that we are in control and have power over what God can or cannot do in our lives. While it’s true we can (and do) resist him, thinking he needs our permission seems a bit arrogant. A prayer such as, “God I give you permission to change me and give me more patience and love” seems at the least the wrong wording, considering who we are relative to his omnipotence and omniscience. 

It’s highly probable the writers don’t mean to be arrogant in their approach to God, but this kind of language seems the opposite of what Dallas Willard mentioned in Renovation of the Heart, that we are to “give up the project of being the ultimate point of reference” in our lives. If I deign to give him permission to act, I am making myself the center; my will becomes the dominant one in the relationship.

Rather than giving God our consent, our spiritual transformation is a partnership, where we work together with the Holy Spirit toward the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). As I’ve said before, the words we use are important. I don’t want to say, “Lord, I give you permission to act,” but I do say, by the power of Christ, I surrender my will, desires, hopes and dreams to you, the One who can transform me to be more like him and through his life, death and resurrection, give me eternal life.

Study by Tammy Tkach


First published on 7 March 2023, at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com


About the writer:
Tammy Tkach is the Assistant Pastor of the Eugene, Oregon, USA congregation. She is a speaker and writer, and publishes a blog at www.gemsofgodsgrace.wordpress.com  

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