"Prayer is helplessness plus faith."
What a paradox this is, one that I wrestle with every single day.
Some say that I am a prayer warrior, probably because I often talk about what I'm praying for and how God is answering. And I don't just talk about it. I pray. A lot.
But the truth is, I don't do it because I feel strong and capable. I do it because I feel helpless and don't know what else to do.
In the face of my family's and my difficulties and struggles, because of seemingly insurmountable troubles in the world, due to sorrows and trials in the lives of people I love, I don't have many answers or solutions.
So I just pray.
There are three books that have been meaningful, influential and life giving to me as I've learned this discipline of prayer.
Bill Thrasher, a professor who taught at Moody Bible Institute, wrote his book with a heart to inspire people to call on the Lord in ALL things that concern them. He says that in the process of doing so, we will "discover the great, holy and kind God who answers prayer and desires to show Himself strong on your behalf."
This has been true for me. I have grown to know the Lord through prayer in ways I never could've imagined. Having him answer my requests is the cherry on top!
Many years ago I came across Catherine Marshall's writings. They have profoundly impacted me, including this little book, a compilation of writing she did for Guidepost many years ago.
"Admittance to the School of Prayer is by an entrance test with only two questions. The first one is: Are you in real need? The second is: Do you admit that you are helpless to handle that need?"
She too recognizes that coming to the Lord with your helplessness is actually a vital aspect of prayer.
I love that she sees the value of faith as well:
"God insists that we ask, not because HE needs to know our situation, but because WE need the spiritual discipline of asking...making our requests specific forces us to take a step forward in faith."
She adds, "In order to make sure that we are not retreating from the tension of faith, it is helpful to ask ourselves as we pray, "Do I really expect anything to happen?"
Guilty! I still don't pray with full expectation sometimes. But I'm growing in this.
Andrew Murray, a South African writer, teacher and pastor, authored over 240 books during his lifetime (1828-1917), with numerous ones being about prayer. A friend gave me this book ten years ago, and I'm still trying to digest, understand and live out his writings on the ministry and work of intercessory prayer.
"Beyond anything else, we give glory to God through intercession. By it we bring blessing to the church and to the world. By it we have our highest honor - the power to be God's instrument in saving souls."
"Be of good courage as servants of Christ and children of God. Let no weakness or any lack cause you to fear - simply ask in the name of Christ. His name has all the power of Christ himself. His promise still stands: You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it."
Prayer is the simplest, and the hardest work.
It's simple in that it's simply and wonderfully communing with God.
It's hard because it takes time, effort and perseverance to stay in a state of prayerfulness.
My hope this year is to be more helplessly dependent on my Father, bringing every need before Him, whether it be small or big.
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6