Jesus tells a parable about two adult men who are praying—one prays from a stance of self-importance while the other prays helplessly.

Read Luke 18:9-14 A Parable

Immediately, the writer of the Gospel according to Luke goes into a call to be like helpless children.

Read Luke 18:15-17 An Object Lesson

“O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” is the prayer of a helpless man.
“Anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” is a reminder that we are to approach God in salvation and in prayer as little children.

• In what ways are little children helpless?

In the season of COVID, we have the opportunity to slay the dragon of prayerlessness by recognizing our helplessness.
God wants us to come to Him empty-handed, weary and heavy- laden. It is the circumstances under which we are weary and heavy-laden that drives us to prayer.

Ole Hallsby on Helplessness in Prayer

Ole Hallsby, a Norwegian Lutheran minister, wrote in 1932 a classic simply entitled Prayer. One section was on “helplessness.”

“Be not anxious because of your helplessness. Above all, do not let it prevent you from praying. Helplessness is the real secret and the impelling power of prayer. You should therefore rather try to thank God for the feeling of helplessness which He has given you. It is one of the greatest gifts

Learning to Be Helpless Week of August 9, 2020

which God can impart to us. For it is only when we are helpless that we open our hearts to Jesus and let Him help us in our distress, according to His grace and mercy” (21).
• Where do you feel most helpless in your life? Vulnerable? Lacking?

• In what ways could this place of helplessness be a beginning point for effective prayer?

Prayer Mirrors the Gospel

When we were saved, we received Jesus because we were weak and could not save ourselves. Paul told the Colossians believers, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (2:6). Helpless is how we came to Jesus; helpless is how we walk with Jesus.

Paul prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh. It did not happen. Instead, God reminded Paul of how the gospel works.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)

The gospel is God’s free gift of grace in Jesus; the gospel only works when we realize we don’t have it all together.
Prayer mirrors the gospel. The very thing we are resistant to— our helplessness—is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless.

Strong Christians pray more because they realize their weakness. They also realize their dependence upon God. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
• Does that mean Christians are innately weak and unable to do for themselves?