The Norwegian pastor and author Ole Hallesby wrote in his delightful book, “Prayer,” the following: “Listen, my friend! Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness.”
Helplessness is an emotion we do not readily accept as a good emotion. When we are confronted with problems the first thing we usually do is to feverishly consider the options and we will strive to find a solution. That is our human, carnal nature. As humans, we seem to pride ourselves in solving our own problems and this forces us to lean to our own understanding. And we keep doing it until we realize our own understanding is not enough. Then we sigh in desperation, and finally, we feel utterly helpless. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 107; we then call out to God in our weakness and sorrow, and experience again what we actually already knew in the first place: “God is able. He is enough and knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.”
Helplessness may not be the most desired state of our spirit, but it truly is the first step to the wonder of answered prayer. Helplessness is really our true state, although our human pride does not like to admit it.
We may know a bit more than a colleague of ours but we never know enough and compared to God, we know next to nothing. When it comes to the real and deep issues of life we fall hopelessly short.
Thus, as long as we still think that we can solve our own problems we miss the most important ingredient for a fruitful prayer, and that is helplessness. The slightest conviction that we can handle life ourselves hinders God from truly answering our prayer.
Ephesians 2:8,9 states that it is only by faith and by grace that we are saved and never by works.
Why? Because if it would be by our own works, we would pat ourselves on the back and we would probably feel pretty smug and satisfied with ourselves and soon we would be so proud that most others would be happy whenever we would leave the room.
Can you see then why God sometimes will allow us to experience difficulty and places us in seemingly desperate situations? It’s not because God doesn’t care, but because He does care. It shows us how small we are and how much we need God. He knows all too well that only when we are broken, small and humbled, the most beautiful flowers of His Kingdom will be able to grow in the soil of our hearts.
Pride is like steel. It is cold and hard and it cannot bend. But God resists the proud.
Humility, on the other hand, is soft; it gives and yields. It only comes when you realize your own limitations and you no longer consider yourself God’s gift to humanity.
Prayer and helplessness go hand in hand. It is not possible to offer real prayer if our heart is not helpless. When we approach God in any other way, chances are our prayers do not go much further than the ceiling of our house.
God is so close and so near that we often forget that He is not just a Father, a friend, and a shepherd, but He is also a King and usually when you approach a King you do not come boasting of your great accomplishments.
The beautiful thing is that when we come before God, broken as we are, and we no longer push our own program, the King usually comes down from His throne, kneels by our side and gently places His kisses upon our worried heads and dries our tears with His fingers.
Nothing touches the heart of God as much as our sincere helplessness.
A mother understands this principle better than anyone else. Which mother does not run to her baby when the infant cries for help? A baby cannot do anything except soil his diaper and cry for milk. Nobody is as helpless as a baby. And yet great care is bestowed upon the tiny infant.
And would God, who created the mother heart, not come running when we sincerely cry out for help and care? All of heaven is set up to assist God’s children on earth and that includes you.
Remember the words of the famous hymn, “Rock of Ages,”
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.
Take shelter in the arms of God. Come to Him just as you are. You don’t have to defend your own goodness when you stand before Him. He knows. But if you call out to Him in your broken helplessness the gates open and you may enter that holy place of deep and sweet communion with the King of Kings.