The Freedom of Obedience

For thirty years now, I have been teaching about the difference between a prayer life and a praying life. Prayer is more than packaging words together and sandwiching them between “Dear God” and “Amen.” When we learn to live a praying life, we have positioned ourselves to receive the power and provision always flowing in our direction out of the abundance of heaven.

God has put obedience front and center in a praying life. Not because by obeying we earn the answers to our prayers, but because by living in obedience we keep clear the conduit of heaven’s power into earth’s circumstances. His call to obedience is an invitation to freedom.

Seven years ago, I lost my husband to brain cancer. As I sat by his side during those final weeks, I witnessed many a living parable of spiritual reality. Here is an entry from my journal, reminding me that when I think I am being restricted, I am really being protected.

Today as I sat beside Wayne's hospital bed, I watched a parable in action. Wayne is being fed and medicated by IV right now. Lots of tubes acting as the conduit through which life and healing flow. Wayne is very restless. He keeps moving his arm in such a way that the IV lines get tangled and the healing flow can't get to him. When he starts moving his arm too much, we have to take his hand and gently hold it down so he won't get the lines tangled. It frustrates him. He feels we are restricting his freedom. He is missing the context. All he knows is he wants his hand to move and we want it to be still. He can't see that what he thinks is restriction is really freedom– freedom to receive the flow that sustains his life.

Like Wayne, we often chafe at God's call to obedience, thinking it restricts us. Our view is narrow. We can't see that His loving hand on ours is freedom. It keeps us in the place where His power and provision flow. It keeps us from moving out of the flow of His Life.

This morning when I got to Wayne's room, they had tied that restless hand to the bed with just enough give that he had freedom, but not license. In other words, he could move his hand, but only within the confines of that which was safe for him. It was a comfortable, soft little cuff around his wrist, but it surprised me and hurt me when I saw it. I thought, how much better when the discipline comes from a loving hand. How much better when that "restriction" is accompanied with a loving touch and gentle words instead of in an impersonal "law" that has no heart.

See how much God loves us? His guidance comes to us from His loving hand, accompanied by His gentle voice, until we learn by experience that His commands set us free. "I will run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free" (Ps 119:32).

Is there an obedience to which you are being called today that feels to you like restriction? Would you be willing to trust that God only calls to obedience in order to clear the way for blessing?

About Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book, Heart’s Cry, has been named […]

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  1. Paula Taylor says

    So sweetly put..

  2. Thank you, I needed to hear that today!

  3. Loved the illustration, Jennifer. Thank you!

  4. Barbara Whaley Weaver says

    SO powerful, Jennifer, and just the perspective I needed to finally live in obedience in a couple of particular areas of my life. Thank you so much for being obedient to God's call on your life, and persevering to share as He leads. Praise to our Heaenly Father and Jesus for loving us so much!

  5. Praise God!

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