Part 2- Childlike Helplessness
One of the childlike qualities that will make prayer effective is the recognition of our “helplessness”. Most of us have grown up in an environment which has taught us to be autonomous, and ruggedly self-sufficient. How many times have I heard myself say: “It is time to put on your big boy pants.”? The more I experience prayer, the more I begin to see just how little I control. I didn’t control where or when I was born, the parents I was allotted, or any of the circumstances which played a part in my becoming who I am today.
When my children were young they depended on me, and their mother, for everything: shelter, food, clothing, medicine, you name it. As life has gone on, and now my children are adults, I have had to relearn the lesson again. I had recently taught on our helplessness and God’s sufficiency in prayer, and was sharing prayer requests. As the words stumbled out of my mouth, I realized I was trying to be the savior in a setting where only God could move. I hate the feeling of helplessness. Admittedly, at times God will use us as a part of His solution. But it remains that we are most effective in prayer when we have come to the place of helplessness.
Lincoln said during the Civil War that he got on his knees in prayer, simply because there was nothing else he could do. Recently, along with yours truly, a few friends at Church have found themselves in situations where they would love to rescue their children, but we each have been confronted with our own helplessness.
Children don’t bring any power to the throne of God. We need to come as children recognizing our helplessness and His sufficiency. Scripture records how God spoke to Paul, and I can only assume that faced with his own absolute helplessness, he struggled with God’s declaration: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:9)
Yesterday I was faced with some devastating information from one of my children. I struggled and fought against my helplessness, and finally after a sleepless night, gave in. Only God… only God.
I can pray… when my child cannot, I can and will pray to the God who ALONE is sufficient. As I prayed this morning, God directed me to Psalm 142, which I prayed on my son’s behalf. I stand in the gap, knowing I am helpless, knowing the he is not in the place where he can pray for himself, and I pray this Psalm.
Why not try it yourself, immediately?
1 A [maskil] of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.
3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who watch over my way. In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.
5 I cry to you, LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” (Ps 142:1-7 NIV)