Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?
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Does the Bible Teach Us How to Pray?

Why You Should Embrace Good Limits

Posted March 4, 2024

During my college years—like most young adults who feel invincible—I could stay up late, wake up early, live off unwise amounts of coffee, hold a part-time job, and succeed in classes. I often didn’t feel the effects of these unbalanced lifestyle habits, but when I did, they left me exhausted and anxious to the point of physical illness. Over time, I’ve grown in my understanding of what it means to embrace good, healthy limits, and how those limits can help me honor God in my daily life. And I’ve found that embracing good limits can result in at least three encouraging ends:

1. Life Within Healthy Boundaries

As followers of Jesus, our lives are to be “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season” (Ps. 1:3). But bearing godly fruit requires living within healthy boundaries: learning to say ‘no’, wisely choosing areas for involvement, and taking care of ourselves. It’s often difficult to learn to say ‘no’ to opportunities for involvement and service; after all, we are called to love and serve our neighbors (Matt. 22:39; Gal. 5:14). But when we fail to account for our limits and our calendar is filled to the brim, we’re unable to do the most important things well. Even Jesus took time by himself to pray and be refreshed (Mark 1:35, 6:31–35; Luke 5:15–16). Furthermore, God made us human—he’s not surprised by our weaknesses but instead has compassion on us, remembering we are dust (Ps.103:14).

People who live within healthy boundaries are those who wisely evaluate their commitments, seeking to maximize their time and involvement for God’s glory and the good of others, even if it means declining other activities. Whether your schedule is full or busy, it’s crucial to build in habits of rest and refreshment. A tree can’t bear healthy fruit if it’s not given the fuel it needs. Embracing limits means living within healthy boundaries, recognizing the God-given restrictions on your time and energy.

2. A Humbled View of Time

Scripture is full of reminders that our world, bodies, and time are in a constant state of decay, and that our time on earth is limited (Gen. 2, 2 Cor. 4:16, Ps. 90, Ps. 102:26). When we embrace that the time we’ve been given here on earth is a gift from God—and it is limited (Ps. 90:9)—we use it differently. It humbles us to know that we can’t do everything, so we ought to use our time to glorify God (Col. 3:12–17) as we seek to bless others (Phil. 2:4), enjoy God’s good gifts (Eccl. 3:1-8), and forsake the idols the world offers (Josh. 24:14–15). In this humbling, we become those who pray with the psalmist, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).

3. Instruction in God’s Character

Finally, as we embrace good limits through healthy boundaries and a humble approach to our time on earth, we’ll also recognize that our limitations—even the worst, most difficult hardships—can be used by God to teach us and others about his character. The apostle Paul describes God’s way of instruction in 1 Corinthians 1:27–29:

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

We learn about the character of God and the nature of human limitations through our own experiences, but also the stories of others. Time and time again, I’ve listened to testimonies of how God has used limitations such as unemployment, chronic illness, cancer, disability, and other trials to point his children to the comfort, compassion, and grace only he provides. Even though facing these experiences is painful, heartbreaking, and depleting, God uses them to instruct us about his character, reminding us that he is in control of everything—and we’re not. Each day, God uses our circumstances to remind us of the necessity of embracing good, healthy limits. He brings us to the end of ourselves so we will learn not to rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9).

When you’re tempted to feel invincible, remember your God-given limits. Those limits offer us life within healthy boundaries, a humbled view of time, and instruction in God’s character that we might depend on him.

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Leah Jolly

Leah Jolly is a graduate of Wheaton College where she studied international relations and Spanish. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband, Logan, and is pursuing her MDiv at Calvin Theological Seminary. She attends Harvest OPC in Wyoming, Michigan. You can connect with Leah on Instagram and Substack.