In his classic Confessions (Book X), Augustine prays, “Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou willest.”

Some say that God never demands more than we can handle, but is this true? You may say,

“Of course it’s true! After all, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13: ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’”

But note: the text does not say God will never give us more than we are able to handle. It says he does not give us more than we can handle ON OUR OWN. How else will our need for God manifest unless we are at our wits end, unable to bear up under the weight? Moreover, how else will we progress toward Christlikeness if we only “handle” what God gives?

My experience has shown me time and again that without God’s help, I’m doomed to repeat mistakes, succumb to temptation, and remain the same person with little or no growth in virtue.

To paraphrase Augustine’s heart and God’s inspired promise to us we might pray this way: “Lord, whatever your will commands me to do, please, above all else, help me to fulfill it in order that I might not fall into sin.”

What would the Body of Christ look like if it prayed this way? How might our lives be different if we prayed this way? You (and all believers) are taught by Jesus to pray that God’s will be done on earth (which, incidentally, at least includes your life circumstances, Matt. 6:10), but do you really want to be the means by which God accomplishes His will? I suspect this is why Augustine arranged his prayer in this manner, putting the request first for us to be enabled to carry out God’s will. “Yes, Lord. Please do give what you command.”

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