There is nothing attractive in the state of helplessness. But thankfully it can be used to make prayer very attractive.

I’ve been the balloon full of air, only to find out I am not tied properly, and the air I am projecting is hurling me against walls.    I’ve seen the bottom of my checking account turn red, and my child’s thermometer spring up over 105º.  Control makes me feel more comfortable.  Yet my loving God reminds me, in love and compassion, ‘it’s okay to be weak.’ “ My power is perfected in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

In her book, Adventures in Prayer, Catherine Marshall says, “For I believe that the old cliché’ “God helps those who help themselves”, is not only misleading, but often dead wrong.  My most spectacular answers to prayers have come when I was so helpless, so out of control as to be able to do nothing at all for myself.”


There is quite a difference between hopelessness and helplessness.  Hopelessness  comes from despondency – an absolute loss of direction and purpose.  Despondent people stand before suicide and find a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Hope lost, they simply give up.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Proverbs 29:18

Christians have no place in hopelessness;  but He does miraculous work in the lives of those who are ‘helpless’, in Christ. How much can you do about your situation?  Can you supply your own needs?    You can pay a bill or find a job or a medicine, but can you ‘sustain’?  Standing tall only makes sense when you are under the shadow of the Almighty, Who controls.    God promises to give you the desires of your heart, but you cannot pack em into your truck if it is filled with your frustrations.

Catherine Marshall says is beautifully:

“What is the truth about our human condition?  None of us had  anything to do with our being born; no control over whether we are male or female, Japanese or Russian or American, white or yellow or black.  Nor can we influence our ancestry, nor our basic mental or physical equipment.  After we are born an autonomic nervous system controls every vital function that sustains life.  A power that no one really understands keeps our heart beating, our lungs breathing, our blood circulating and our body temperature at 98.6 degrees.

Even the planet on which we live, we had nothing to do with its creation either.  The little planet Earth is exactly the right distance – some ninety-three million miles from the source of its heat and light. . Any nearer and we would be consumed by solar radiation; any farther and we would be frozen to death.  The balance of oxygen and nitrogen in the air is exactly right  .

“For without me you can do nothing!”  John 15:5


But, with Him . . . . we’ve got powerWe close our eyes to approach the throne of God and we are shown to a small, dark chamber with a large door.  Once that massive door is pulled open, we are awe-struck by the grandeur  of the room but immediately our eyes are drawn to the King of Kings. It takes every muscle of strength to take a step into his chamber.  But as we walk toward Him, we notice, He, too, steps toward us. (Can we even remember our request?)  The face of our Lord lets us know that He is already aware of our request.  He puts His arm around our shoulder and asks us to come sit at His feet so He can get to know us and we can get to know Him.    “Let’s handle your problems today – the one’s that bother you right now” He tells us.  “Certainly, there will be many more problems in days to come.  But you and I will work on those as they come.  We’ve got ‘forever’ together!”    Catherine Marshall

David had at his disposal armies of men who would have fought for him.  He had the wealth he needed for all things. But, of course, God didn’t need his wealth; He needed his heart. He needed his helplessness.  When David came to God in Psalm 40, he wrote:  “I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to God.  Now many will hear of the glorious things He did for me and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in Him.”  Psalm 40:1-3 

In a complete state of helplessness, David turned to the Lord and “waited patiently.”


David didn’t try to take part of the job.  He didn’t try to impress God with what he could do.  He simply said “I give up.  I can’t do a thing!”


How often I pray “Lord help me”.  “Help” me to find the right job”.  “Help me to do the best I can do”.  “Help me to get through this crisis”.  “Help me” is certainly an honest approach to prayer.  But God is bigger than just a “helper.” He’s got the Principal Role – not just some Extra.

Can He assist you?  Yes!  But, frankly, at anytime, day or night or in between, He can do the thing better than you could ever imagine.  So go ahead, brag. Sure, you’re helpless, but not hopeless.

Then chime in with Paul  who declared:  “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:10

copyright Judi Collins 2011; Used by permission from her devotional “Helplessness….”

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