When it comes to prayer, what is your biggest hurdle? What is holding you back
I’ve heard all sorts of answers to questions like this. Some people say they don’t have enough time. Others tell me that they are not convinced that prayer will work. And then there are those who fear that they will “annoy” God when they talk to him about the little details of their lives.
However, none of these are the most common problem we face. The biggest obstacle, even with people who have been in the Church all their lives, is that we cannot really pray.
We don’t think we sound “holy” enough.
We worry that we are not getting it right or that we are asking about the “wrong” thing.
We’re not sure where to start.
As someone who has spent the past 25 years writing and speaking about prayer, I have heard many good prayers. And I’ve had many good prayers, people who (if prayer were a sport) would easily get a place on the university team. But honestly? After hearing all of these good people and all of their good words, I don’t think prayer is much better than this:
God help me
The prayer “Lord help me” is the only prayer we all need. It works for all situations. And it’s a prayer as old as the Bible.
This is how King David prayed when his enemies attacked and his life was at stake. “Hurry up, oh God, to save me; Come quickly, Lord, to help me ”(Psalm 70: 1)
This is what a Canaanite woman – a foreigner – said when her daughter was sick. Although the disciples tried to drive her away, she pushed in and knelt before Jesus. “Lord help me!” she prayed. (Matthew 15:25)
And that’s what a desperate father asked as he watched his demon-possessed son roll around on the floor and foam at his mouth as he had for years. “If there is anything you can do,” he said to Jesus, “have pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22)
In each of these cases – and countless others throughout history – God heard the prayer and appeared.
The prayers were nothing special. Neither were the people. David hid in caves and did not sit on a throne. Frankly, the Canaanite mother annoyed the disciples with her request. And the father of the demon? He didn’t even know if the prayer worked: “Help me!” He cried. “Help me to overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24
What was so special about it? Why did God answer? And does the “Lord help!” Prayer still work today?
Does the prayer “Help me” still work today?
Yes, the “Lord help me” prayer works – and here’s why.
First, the act of prayer – turning our hearts and minds to the Almighty – brings us into the presence of God, the place where joy is abundant, according to Psalm 16:11.
Second, starting a prayer with the word “Lord” is like giving praise. In short, it means that God is God … and we are not. It identifies him as the source of all blessings and supplies and says that he is the one who has the power and resources to affect our lives. Just as we would approach an earthly king or ruler with the right attitude, it is best to determine our place – and that of God.
Third (and perhaps most importantly), we make a colossal mistake when we think we need to pull ourselves together if we want God to hear our plea, that we need to clean up our actions or be strong. We feel that if we ask God for help, we will be better able to deserve it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
A magnet for God’s grace
It is our weakness that draws God’s attention. “God opposes the proud,” says James 4: 6, “but he shows his favor to the humble.” Our cry for help acts like a magnet for His grace! Not only that, our weakness is like a trophy for God’s glory. His power, he tells us at 2 Corinthians 12: 9, is “made perfect” in weakness. God’s Spirit shines here!
So let’s not hold back when it comes to prayer, no matter how ill-equipped or inadequate we may feel. Let’s tell God what we need – what we’re scared of, what we’re worried about, where we think we’re not up to the task – without worrying about bugging Him or asking for the wrong thing.
God wants us to pray so He can provide.
In every situation.
That is the promise of Philippians 4: 6, and it is true. I have often said that there is not a single need we will meet that God has not already thought of and foreseen in His Word. Likewise, there is not a single need that we will encounter – in our relationships, our work, our physical body, or anything else – that God has not already foreseen and fulfilled in character.
He is our healer: “Lord my God, I have called you for help and you have healed me” (Psalm 30: 2)
He is our protector: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts him and he helps me. ”- Psalm 28: 7
He is our counselor: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will teach you everything and remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26)
He is our helper in all situations – even if we just need to know what to say! (See, for example, Exodus 4:12 and Luke 12:12.)
God bows down to listen
All of these qualities and countless others are facets of God’s nature that we are determined to discover and to which we appeal when we pray. “We place our hope on him that he will continue to set us free”, writes Paul, “if you help us with your prayers” (2 Corinthians 1:10). Obviously, God intended us to work with Him – to help with the rescue – whether we need ourselves or someone else. And even if we are too tired, scared, or discouraged to put our thoughts into words – if we want to pray but don’t know how – he will also help us:
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” promises Romans 8:26. “Because we don’t know what to pray for, but the Spirit itself steps in for us with a sigh too deep for words.”
So again, let’s not hold back. Let’s ask God for help and trust him to answer. Let us connect our voices to the psalmist and say, “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he stoops to listen, I will pray while I have air! “- Psalm 116: 1-2.
God bows down to listen. He longs to answer. All we have to say is “help”.
Photo credit: © GettyImages / Simon Lehmann
Jodie Berndt is the best-selling author of the Praying the Scriptures book series, including the latest Praying the Scriptures for Your Life. To download printable prayer calendars and access other free resources, please visit JodieBerndt.com.