Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Prayer, by its nature, moves us away from our reliance on ourselves and towards reliance on God. This text from Proverbs instructs us in this basic wisdom. “Trust in the Lord,” it says. Rely on God, lean on God, turn to God for wisdom, guidance and help.
The text goes on to tell us that as we lean on God we are to lean away from our own understanding. This does not mean that being people of faith requires us to check our brains at the door. It does mean that we remember that God is God and we are not. It means that we live with the reality of our limits. It means that we keep in mind how limited our understanding is, how limited our knowledge is, how limited we are in our ability to manage our lives on our own.
The image of leaning on God and the image of leaning on our own understanding represent two different paths for life. The path we are most familiar with is the path of trying to figure everything out, trying to get it all right. The well worn path is the path of relying on our own strength and understanding. The path of leaning on God—of trusting God with all our heart—is the path less traveled by most of us.
The wisdom of giving up self-reliance and learning to rely on God in all we do is counter intuitive for most of us. We have been taught to value self-reliance, to see it as the goal of human development. We have not been taught to value reliance on others, not even reliance on God.
Even within Christian circles, we have lost the core value and practice of reliance on God rather than reliance on ourselves. Prayer and Scripture reading and other religious practices have become activities we do as a kind of performance to win God’s approval. These things that are meant to open our hearts to the love and wisdom of God become things we do in order to feel like we are doing all the right things and jumping through all the right hoops.
But prayer is not a performance to placate an angry or demanding God. Prayer is an acknowledgment of our need for God. Prayer is child-like trust in a loving God who desires to guide us and bless us.
All of Scripture tells us that life was meant to be lived, not in reliance on ourselves, but in full, joyful reliance on the One who made us and who is with us always. Life was meant to be lived in vital, intimate, daily turning to God in all we do, knowing our need of God and trusting that God will make clear the path before us.
According to the wisdom of this text from Proverbs, relying on God is a matter of the heart. We trust God with our whole heart. Relying on God rather than on ourselves means we give our heart to God, we give our love to God. We do this because God has already given God’s heart to us. Because God loves us dearly we can entrust God with our hearts and with our lives.
You invite my full trust.
I do not have to know it all, understand it all, figure it all out.
I often strive to control things that are not in my control.
I try to figure out matters that are beyond understanding.
But I can let go of my attempts to be in charge.
I can let go of reliance on myself
and begin to rely on you instead.
You know, you see, you understand.
And you invite me to lean on you, to let you guide me.
Teach me to give up self-reliance.
Teach me to trust you with my whole heart
and to seek your guidance in all I do.
Talk to God about the fears that make it difficult for you to trust God with all your heart.
Talk to God about your desire to trust God with all your heart.
Ask God to increase your capacity for trust.
Ask God for help and guidance in all you do today.