If you want to know the secret of power through prayer then learn a lesson from the classic book simple titled Prayer written by Dr. O. Hallesby who was a seminary professor in Oslo, Norway. He wrote, “I never grow weary of emphasizing our helplessness, for it is the decisive factor not only in our prayer life, but in our whole relationship to God.”
He added, “Helplessness united with faith produces prayer. Without faith our helplessness would be only a vain cry of distress in the night.” He said that prayer is like a baby crying. His other hears his cry and relieves his helpless distress.
Recognizing our helplessness is so important that God led Israel out of Egypt into the desert where there was no food and no water. They were helpless to meet their need of these basic necessities. God was training them to live by faith in His almighty power to provide their needs.
We must live and pray in the spirit of childlike helplessness. This is the key to greatness in the kingdom of God. Remember how Jesus answered His disciples who asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me,’” (Matthew 18:1-5).
A little child knows he is completely dependent on his parents. This humble, childlike dependence on God is absolutely necessary for sharing the life, wisdom, and power of God. Without this humble dependence on the Lord, we depart from the living God in unbelief. The lack of childlike dependence on God resulted in the fall of Adam and Eve. Satan lured them into claiming their independence of God.
Solomon’s rise to great wisdom and power began with his humble prayer, “Now, O LORD, my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore, give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (I Kings 3:7-10).
Solomon did become a wise, famous, and powerful king, but, at the height of his power, he departed from the Lord. He forgot that he was only a child. He forgot who gave him wisdom and power. When he died his great kingdom fell apart and left his son who followed him with only two tribes.
Church history started with the apostles’ humble childlike dependence on God expressed in a strong commitment to pray. The young church shared this childlike dependence on the Lord. The pagan world was turned right side up by their powerful prayer ministry. But, as we have seen, today congregational prayer is weak or non-existent in churches all over America. Few meet for prayer and those who do meet for prayer rarely gather as little children helplessly seeking the Lord. Where there is no recognition of our helplessness, there is no awareness of the necessity of praying.
The late Dr. H.A. Ironside, who was for many years pastor of Chicago’s Moody Church, said he spoke in a church once and discovered they did not have a prayer meeting. He asked why. Their answer was, “We don’t need anything.” They had departed from the Lord and did not know it. When the church does not pray, it is saying we do not need anything from God.
Jesus was not like that. He said to the Jews, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does the Son also does in like manner,” (John 5:19). We must be like Him. Jesus said that He is the Vine. We are the branches and without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Many scholars believe the Laodicean church with its self-sufficient spirit reveals that many churches at the end of the age will think they need nothing. They will be self-satisfied.
Listen to Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ –and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I live, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him heart what the Spirit says to the churches,’” (Rev. 3:15-22).
When Jesus said, “If anyone hears My voice,” the if in the Greek text implies that He doubted there was even one person in that self-sufficient church who would listen to Him. They had departed from prayer partnership with Christ and were at the brink of total destruction and did not know it.
The secret of powerful praying is to depend on the Lord like a helpless little child depends on his parents.
The Lord revealed to Paul the necessity of keeping his spirit of helpless dependence on God. Paul had a painful thorn in his flesh. Three times he pleaded with God to remove it, but the Lord refused. He told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul accepted this answer and said, “Therefore most gladly I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9-10).