Here's another way of describing the things that I was trying to describe below in the post "mystery". Thanks Anj for reminding me of these words of Richard Foster:
When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human power of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God's work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.....
God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.
Celebration of Discipline
Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 5-6.