Article by Michael Goforth II:
You’ve heard this verse a thousand times. You’ve seen it on t-shirts and coffee cups. You may even have it memorized. But don’t let the familiarity of this verse take away from how amazing it is. Read it slowly and purposefully:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
About a month ago I was studying this verse for a sermon and it hit me like it never has before.
The old Michael with all of my sin, all of my brokenness, all of my failures, and all of my attempts at measuring up has been crucified with Christ.
I died with Him. But I live.
When Christ stepped out of that grave and conquered sin, death, and hell, I stepped out with him.
So I live, but it is no longer me living. It is Christ living through me. The one who loved me and gave himself for me, has united himself to me.
I have the presence of the risen Christ indwelling me and empowering me to live this life.
Again, if you’ve been a believer for any length of time, none of this is new information. But how many of us actually live like this is true?
So after studying it, I started thinking, how do I practically live this out in my everyday life?
This led to a lot of thinking, researching, and studying. And I came across an acronym that John Piper made in a sermon from 1983.
It’s called, “A.P.T.A.T.” and it’s how he practically tries to live out the truth of this verse. He breaks it down this way,
A. Admit that you can do nothing.
P. Pray for God’s help for the task at hand.
T. Trust a particular promise of God’s help.
A. Act in faith.
T. Thank God for the help received.
The amazing part about this acronym is that Piper still uses it to this day. So for close to 40 years, he has used a simple acronym to live out the astounding reality of union with Christ from Galatians 2:20!
Now I know they say that you shouldn’t try to fix something that isn’t broken, and that’s not what I am claiming to do here. However, even though I loved the practical steps from this acronym, I wasn’t a huge fan of what it spelled out. I just couldn’t see “APTAT” becoming a regular part of my vocabulary.
So I started thinking of different words that could be used to contain similar steps. And for the last month or so, I have been using the acronym, “P.R.A.Y.” I’ve used this before preaching, before talking with my wife, before sharing the gospel, when I have been tempted to lose my temper, and in so many other situations! I simply pause and “remember to P.R.A.Y.” I’ll break it down for you:
P. Plead for God’s Help
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” Psalm 28:7
Before any task in your life, pause and recognize your dependence on God. Jesus said without Him we can do nothing! So simply pausing to ask for God’s help is a great way to remember that you cannot do this on your own.
R. Rely on God’s Promise
“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
Here I take a cue from Piper and remember a a specific promise from God’s word that applies to my situation.
So before sharing the gospel I remember Jesus’ words, “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
Before preaching on Sunday, I’ll remember the promise from Isaiah 55:10-11 that God’s word will not return void and will accomplish all of his purposes!
When struggling with patience, I remember that I have access to the fruit of the Spirit! (Galatians 5:22-23)
This is a great way to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly! (Colossians 3:16)
A. Act in God’s Power
“I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29
After asking for God’s help and trusting in a particular promise from his Word, now it is time to act in the strength that he supplies. (1 Peter 4:11)
The Christian life is not self-help. It is to be lived in complete reliance to God’s power for His glory.
Y. Yield to God’s Spirit
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
Even though I have decided to act in God’s power, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I need Him every moment.
So whether I’m sharing the gospel, preaching a sermon, or having a difficult conversation with someone, I am trying to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit all throughout the process.
That is what it looks like in my life when I, “Remember to P.R.A.Y.”
Like I said earlier, I’ve only been using this acronym for about a month, so I understand if you choose to use Piper’s time-tested APTAT instead. Or maybe you’re the type to come up with your own! Obviously you’re not required to use an acronym, but I have found it to be an extremely practical way to live out Galatians 2:20.
Remember, you are crucified with Christ. But you live. And it is no longer you living, but Christ living in you.
I love how David Rightmire explains this, “Christian experience is more than an imitation of the life and teaching of Jesus. It is the present experience of the risen Christ indwelling the believer’s heart by the Spirit.”
So plead for God’s help, rely on His promises, act in His power, and yield to His Spirit. All to the praise of His glory.