“A Strong Weakness”
“These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good (Psalm 104:27-28).”
Prayer that works has a secret. Well, it’s not intended to be a secret, in fact God doesn’t want this vital element of effective prayer to be hidden. One thing serves as the common denominator possessed by the faithful in all of the great prayers recorded in the Bible, and that is a deep sense of dependency upon God. We like to celebrate rugged individualism as a part of this nation’s history, but this attitude is antithetical to the prayers of God’s people. It is also an attitude that we must overcome as we often fall under the delusion that we are in charge in life. There is a daily temptation for us to fall under the delusion that we are in control over our stewardships.
This dependency upon God in prayers is frequently expressed throughout the Psalms. “Bow down Your ear, O LORD, for I am poor and needy (Psalm 86:1).” “O GOD, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You, My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1).” We see that deep dependency fueled David’s petitions to His God.
Judah’s King Jehoshaphat and his army of God’s people were surrounded by three different armies and badly outnumbered. (2 Chronicles 20). This commander in chief did not seek treaties or alliances but dialed a divine 911 to the only One who could save them. “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You (2 Chronicles 20:12).” He expressed total dependency upon God and He alone to save them. Because they believed in God and His history of rescuing those who trusting in Him, they gave Him praise and were delivered (vv.20-21).
Jesus drew a sharp line between those who trusted in themselves in prayer vs. those who cried to God in utter dependency, demonstrating that the lowly tax collector went home justified for his humble, helpless hope in God (Luke 18:9-14). He commended the centurion who plead for his servant’s health and confessed he was not worthy to have Jesus enter his house (Matthew 8:5-13). Jesus Himself expressed this same dependency upon God during His earthly sojourn (John 5:30, 8:28). Similarly, apart from Christ, we are impotent (John 15:5).
Maintaining this dependency is essential for Christians to retain God’s continued blessings through prayer. Another King of Judah, Asa, found himself and his army in a desperate hour outnumbered 2 to 1. He prayed, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help whether with many or with those who have not power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You (2 Chronicles 14:11)!” But later in His reign he foolishly denied his dependency upon God and trusted in mere men, and as a result he suffered needlessly (2 Chronicles 16:7-11). Finally, Scripture tells us he contracted a terrible disease, and even then did not appeal to God but instead relied solely upon his doctors (v.12).
The simple truth is we are insufficient of ourselves (Matthew 5:36, 6:27). Jesus taught us that we should even pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). We aren’t really able to provide for ourselves adequately as we might sometimes believe, but it is God who “gives to all life, breath, and all things (Acts 17:25).” Keeping our dependency in mind when we approach His throne is the key to an effective prayer life. Strong Christians pray because they recognize that they are weak.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).”