According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the phrase “accountability partner” is a neologism. It explains, “A neologism (pron.: /niːˈɒlədʒɪzəm/; from Greek νέο- (néo-), meaning “new”, and λόγος (lógos), meaning “speech, utterance” is a newly coined term, word, or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language.” I would insist that the phrase has entered our mainstream language because the idea is becoming increasingly popular. More and more people are coming to understand that having an accountability partner can be extremely helpful in keeping commitments.
Earliest Use of Accountability Partners Perhaps the earliest use of accountability partners on a grand scale came with Alcoholics Anonymous, beginning in the 1930’s. The actual term may date to weight loss programs in the 1960’s. I’ve written before on this blog about the importance of accountability partners and spiritual coaches. In this post I would like to suggest the important of God being our most important accountability partner/spiritual coach. Hang with me through two brief blog installments while I pull several ideas together that, I believe, has the power to transform lives.
God: Our Most Important Accountability Partner Of course, we communicate with God, our accountability partner/spiritual coach, through prayer. When many Christians think of prayer they think primarily of intercessory prayer, with perhaps a little praise and thanksgiving thrown in. This type of intercession is certainly scriptural. However, a close examination of the Lord’s model prayer reveals it is primarily about submission to the will of God and seeking forgiveness when we fail to submit.
Have you ever lost a close family member or friend? Who brought the most comfort to you? The individual who offered some profound truth, or someone who may have had little to say but cried with you and truly felt your pain?
I’ve always had difficulty understanding intercessory prayer. Do I need to talk God into healing a sick family member? Doesn’t God already love that person even more than I do? Do I actually think I’m more concerned than God about another’s need? I have come to believe God encourages us to pray for our own needs and for others, not primarily because it will change God’s mind about acting or not acting, but because of what it does for us. God has big shoulders and is a great listener.
Intercessory prayer is an act of faith; it is a recognition of our inadequacy and God’s adequacy. When I pray for others I’m joining God in concern for that individual and expressing my trust that God will act in accordance with His perfect will.
Listening to God I’ve come to believe that listening to God is much more important than talking to God. If I had the chance to meet with John Wesley or Martin Luther or the Apostle Paul for an hour, you can bet I would spend most of that time listening to what they had to say. I might put a question to them from time to time, but what I would have to offer would be of little consequence compared to what they could tell me. How much more true is this when I meet with God?
Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). Many people tell me they have been a Christian for many years yet never “heard God.” In Part II of this post I will share some specific suggestions about how to listen to God and make your heavenly Father your most important accountability partner.