5 Ways We Limit God’s Power In Our Lives
To be clear, we cannot change the nature of God, because He is unchangeable. Still, God will wait on us to allow Him to work in our lives in many ways – because He respects our free will that much. Here are 5 of the ways we can limit Him coming into our lives, though there are many more. If God is who we say He is, then the problems in our lives that limit God’s power are not on His end…but on our end.
- We fear what God might ask us to do. Fear is a major limitation to faith. Fear kept the Apostles in the upper room. In contrast, faith drove them into the streets and their witness changed the world. Faithlessness is a limitation on God working through us. Faith sets God’s power free in our lives, as revealed to us in the Bible:
“Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.” And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.” -Mark 6:4-6:
Notice it doesn’t say Jesus didn’t want to do miracles for the people, but rather He couldn’t – because of their unbelief. Our lack of faith limits God’s power in our lives, because God doesn’t want to force Himself onto us. He wants us to receive His grace/love/power freely, out of love for Him. God is no less powerful due to our fear that leads to faithlessness, but many times he holds His power in check until we surrender in faith. Yes, there is a natural inclination to fear the unknown. But, faith (strengthened by hope) comes to our aid and does what we can’t do naturally. It supernaturally provides access to the power of God in our lives. This is why the core of the Christian faith comes down to this – BELIEVE and be saved. BELIEVE and be healed. BELIEVE.
- We rely on our own power, instead of the power of God. Instead of going to the one who is truly all-powerful and all-loving, we hold back. Maybe we won’t be accepted. We are imperfect and weak. Why would God love me? So, instead of opening our lives up to God, we merely lean on our own understanding, limitation, gifts, and power. Then we ask – why haven’t I grown in holiness? Why has my prayer not yielded much fruit? Why…If God is truly all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, doesn’t He know better than you and me? So, to turn our lives over to Him, we have to cast out anxiety and worry. Notice one of the most recurring themes in the Bible is to not worry and have no fear. In fact, if we seek God for His own sake – not for what He does for us – then we will be rewarded!
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” – Luke 12:27-31
- We hold on to the guilt of our sin, even we repent of it. Sin is a jealous master and hates to see any slave freed. It will stay with us, as guilt, in order to beat us down. Then we start to doubt if we are truly forgiven, because we don’t like ourselves very much, due to our guilty feelings. Ultimately, we doubt that the sins were truly forgiven because we go back to the same old sin again and again, probably because we never left it behind the last time we repented of it in Confession. True repentance must come with an attitude of honesty, humility, and with the resolution to turn away from our sin – not to go back to it again and again. Yet to accomplish this, we can’t just rely on our own power! We have to know that God doesn’t condemn us any longer and we are truly free – so don’t allow yourself to be a slave once again by shackling yourself to guilt caused by a forgiven sin! Be set free to allow God to do great things in your life!
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” -Gal 5:1
- When we look for spiritual highs and good feelings more than true relationship. There are so many Christians who struggle with prayer and taking the next step in walking with Jesus, because they are merely waiting to feel good, rather than to love God and others, no matter the cost. When we go to our Father in prayer, do we release our burdens to Him or hold onto them as our own possessions? Do we really try to love Him and seek His will or try to beg Him to shape His will to our own? Do we really try to listen to Him or do we want Him to listen to us.Yes, we are God’s children. But, if all we do is look for the next good feeling, we won’t allow God to work through the day-to-day circumstances of our life. We won’t allow Him to redeem our sufferings. We won’t allow Him into the pains and problems. Thus, we limit His power. St. Paul allowed God to work in every part of his life and thus grace abundantly flowed into him and through him to others:
“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,so also you share in our comfort.” -2 Cor 1:6-7
- We expect little, so we receive little. Do you expect God to be present to you in your work and/or study today? Do you expect God to have a plan for your life? Do you expect God to care about you? Do you expect God to show up in your prayer? I think most Christians would have to give an honest “no” or “sometimes” to these questions. Yet, if you limit your expectations of God, you may limit how He can work in your life. Think of the story of Jesus last entry into Jerusalem. He comes riding on a donkey and the crowds hailed him as the conquering king. They expected He would save them – but they wanted political salvation, not spiritual! Jesus blew away their expectations and in doing so many were disappointed. Some were so down on Jesus that they were calling for His death a few days later! Judas too must have had his expectations dashed, because he wanted so little from Jesus. He expected little, received little, and was crushed by it all. It may be a hard lesson for them to have learned, but I would be lying if I said that I always expect God to radically blow my mind and expectations away and love it when He does. Rather, I sometimes put a lid on God’s power, by wanting Him to act in the expected or planned ways I want. If God is God, then we should broaden our expectations of Him. He wants to come into our lives powerfully and sometimes unexpectedly. He wants to shake us up and He knows better than we do what is good for us. We need to raise our expectations. Expect Jesus to powerfully move in your life today – if you let Him. Expect that He will speak to your heart. Expect miracles to happen in your life. Expect conversion and healing to happen. Expect that God is coming again, even if you know not when.
“You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” -Luke 12:40
Marcel is a husband and father of five, serves on the pastoral council at St. Mary’s and is the founder and Executive Director of Catholic Missionary Disciples.