Helplessness and Prayer


These continue to be challenging days in which to do ministry. What I’d like to know is – are you overwhelmed right now? I remember early on in my ministry when I was pastoring a church. It had a Christian school that we had to close, and many of the staff in the school had been leaders in major areas of our church ministry. They had to now move along, and I was holding all of these ministries without leaders to put over them. And I was overwhelmed. I remember sitting at my desk in my office and the entire campus was empty when it used to be full with children. It was quiet. I didn’t know what to do next. I was desperate. And I prayed like I had not prayed in a long time.

Paul Miller reminds us in his book, The Praying Life, that prayer is helplessness. Instinctively, I want to get rid of my helplessness before I come to God. But prayer is bringing my helplessness to God.

The gospel story is that we received Jesus Christ as our Savior out of our helplessness and brokenness. He alone could meet that need. And then Paul reminds the Colossian people, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6). We forget that helplessness is how the Christian life works.

Prayer mirrors the Gospel. It was Jesus who said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Who is it that Jesus is looking for to come to Him? Not people who have it together. Not people who have it all figured out. He’s looking for desperate, helpless people. Are you desperate?

Paul Miller puts it this way – “To become more like Jesus is to feel increasingly unable to do life. Increasingly wary of your heart. Paradoxically, you get holier while you are feeling less holy. The very thing you are trying to escape – your inability – is what opens the door to prayer and then to God’s grace.”

Friend, I hope you are desperate. I hope you recognize you can’t do life and you can’t lead ministry apart from His grace and His power. Be desperate. That is the entrance into a praying life and into a ministry that God will change and transform, and a life that He will make new. May we be desperate.

God bless you,

David Whitaker, President

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