The Prayer of Helplessness

..”In helplessness alone there would be no value, our situation would be intolerable if Jesus had left us there. But instead He says:

‘With God all things are possible’

All things! This is an audacious statement just as the opposite…

‘Apart from me, you can do nothing.’

Jesus must be saying that there is nothing in heaven or on earth over which God does not have control.

Most of us can believe that God can control us, provided we are willing. Thus, if we are in [a dark] hole because of our own foolishness, misjudgement, or sin, we can concede God’s ability to help.

But there is another type of life situation at which faith often staggers. This is when heartbreak has come to us because of other people’s sins and failures – what might be called ‘second causes’.

The tragedies most difficult to take are those that come through the failures, ignorance, carelessness, or hatred of other human beings. These are the times when men seem to be working havoc with God’s plans.

It is important that we believe that God is adequate even for those situations. Otherwise, the Prayer of Helplessness will fall to the ground.

In order to fly, the bird must have two wings. One wing is the realisation of our human helplessness, the other is the realisation of God’s power. Our faith in God’s ability to handle our particular situation is the connecting link.

..the cross stands as the final symbol that no evil exists that God cannot turn into a blessing. He is the living Alchemist who can take the dregs from the slag-heaps of life – disappointment, frustration, sorrow, disease, death, economic loss, heartache – and transforms the dregs into gold.

This is the hope and promise that I claimed for myself… and that I yearn to pass on to everyone whom life has hemmed in; to the would-be suicide, and to the merely discouraged who do not consider suicide but who also will not consider God.

This means that no sinner is hopeless; no situation irretrievable. No case is past redeeming.

That is why Jesus’ insistence on our helplessness is the most hopeful note in Scripture. That is why every one of us – imperfect as we are – can take heart and thank God for the power of helplessness.”


Excerpt from “Beyond Our Selves” by Catherine Marshall, first published 1961 (C) pp. 162 – 167.

Image source (C) 2012 Richard Waring @ blogspot.

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