Helpless but Strong
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19 NIV)
What is the key to prayer that is answered by God?
In the New Testament, we read that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, saying, “Our Father…” This establishes our relationship with God. It says, “We’re coming to you because we’re your children.” God loves it when we come, not with an I-hope-this-works attitude, but with the sense that we have a right to come to him as a son or a daughter. We are never a bother to our heavenly Father. On the contrary, he rejoices when we come to him, for he created us for fellowship with himself.
Next, we have to realize our need and our helplessness before him. This would seem like a negative confession according to the mindset of people today. Society tells us to depend on our degrees and our bank accounts and to avoid projecting the image that we’re weak. For Christians, however, to confess lack of power before the Lord is to invite God’s power in our lives. Further, faith comes when we know “we can’t do it” and now we’re going to throw the whole thing on God. God loves that! What he doesn’t like is when we say, “God, I need a little help around the edges, but otherwise I can do this on my own.” When we acknowledge that we’re completely helpless, and he answers, God gets all the glory.
Just think: When he became flesh, Jesus, Son of the living God, showed his own helplessness. Didn’t he say, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing”? In that helplessness there is power. Remember what the apostle Paul said: “I can do all things…” Did he leave it at that? No, what he said was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Before Jesus left this earth, he said it very plainly: “Without me you can do…." What? Some things? No, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added).
So here’s the good news: When we feel we’re powerless and have no idea what to do before the mountain that is in front of us; when we come to him, saying, “My Father, I’m helpless before this situation—these lies that people are saying about me, these financial woes, this wayward spouse….” that’s the territory God is going to move into. Isn’t that what any mother or father does when they see a child of theirs who is helpless calling upon them for help? The Bible reasons with us, saying, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. For those who don’t really feel helpless without his help, who think they’re smart, God says, “Okay, do it on your own.” We don’t want to do that today. We want our heavenly Father to know how much we need him and want him to answer our petitions according to his sovereignty and his will, so he can receive all the glory in our lives.
Read John 5:16-30.