It is quite common to see an individual when faced with a choice to obey Christ or not, set out to pray about it. This is not entirely wrong, it is true we find grace and help in time of need, and the way of escape during times of temptation, as we seek God in prayer. Jesus sets the example for us in His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, as He fervently sought the Father that he cup might pass from Him. Although sweating drops of blood in His anguish, He yet submitted to the will of His Father and found the strength He needed to go on to face the cross (Luke 22:39-44).We read that He learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Heb 5:7-8).
Yet it is far too common to see individuals substituting prayer for obedience. They pray for God's will, they pray for strength, they pray for help, but the truth is they do not intend to obey. Having thus prayed, they feel justified in their inaction, as they wait for God to somehow make them obedient. God however will not obey for us, He will not force us to do what we are unwilling to do, as true obedience must come from our willing hearts if it is to be pleasing in His sight.
God does not command us to do that which we are unable to do.
It has been taught that man is incapable of doing any good at all, that his depravity is such that he can only do evil. Yet look around and you will see unsaved individuals doing right things. There are people who are not born again, yet have some morals that they follow. Jesus said that even sinners love those who love them back. The rich young ruler was obedient to the commandments, yet fell short in one area (Mark 10:17-22). Likewise Paul, before his conversion was also blameless in the Law, yet he could not break free from covetousness (Phil 3:6; Rom 7:7). The fact that sinful people can obey God's law does not make them righteous, it does not give them favor in God's eyes, but it proves the point that God does not expect us to do something impossible; we can obey. Depravity lies within our wills, we refuse to do what is right, choosing instead to do wrong, and as a result falling into bondage to our selfish desires.
We might say it is too hard. There are things that we may face in our Christian walk that are indeed hard, our flesh is selfish, and Christ's commands go against that. Yet we read that His yoke is easy and His burden is light ( Matt 11:28-30). We also read that His commands are not burdensome (1John 5:3). The problem is not with what we are asked to do, but lies with us. Our human nature will try to rise up and gain the mastery if we will not subdue it.
In Luke 17:1-10 we read of Jesus' instructions concerning an offending brother, and our duty to not only confront such a one, but to also forgive, multiple times if necessary. Finding this a bit daunting, the disciples cry out, "Increase our faith."
Jesus replies that a tiny bit of faith, even the size of a mustard seed is all that is necessary to accomplish great things. It is not a burst of heavenly energy that we must wait for if we would be obedient, but simply to take God at his word, and then put it into practice. We like to claim His promises in this way, but we must also put His word into action in our lives by faith as well.
Jesus goes on to teach us that as His servants it is our duty to obey as well. Once again it is not an issue of I can't, but just as an employer expects so much out of an employee, likewise God expects our obedience as well.
As Christians we have the law of God written upon our hearts, and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. We do not have to live in bondage to sin and selfishness, as Christ has done all that is necessary to bring us into a life of loving obedience. It is up to us to count ourselves dead to sin (Rom 6:11-14), to put off the old man (Eph 4:23), and put on the new (Eph 4:23-24), and to abide in Christ (1 John 3:6).