Because of our weakness, we sometimes feel that we are not strong enough, that we cannot do the work that God has called us to do.
I felt that I was not strong enough to raise two children with autism, and their sister with learning disabilities. I said rather frankly to God that I was pretty sure that I was not the right person for this job… My inner conversations with God at this time were of a similar ilk. Why do they have to have autism? I don’t know what to do, help me.
I felt weak, exhausted – sometimes too weak to even pray. Even unworthy to pray because I was weak. I felt helpless.
But helplessness is the key to prayer according to O. Hallesby, in his classic book, Prayer. He says “helplessness is unquestionably the first and surest indication of a praying heart…your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas.”
In our crying out to God, even if it does not feel like prayer, it is. So many times when I didn’t know what to do, my only prayer was, God help me. I didn’t know what kind of help I needed. I didn’t know what to pray in the face of tantrums; odd and uneven language development; persistent stimming behavior; barriers to education, mainstreaming, and inclusion; financial difficulties; health problems, etc.
But God has an answer for our weakness in prayer, even when we don’t have what we feel are the right words, or any words, for that matter.
“26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
Those desperate, on-the-fly pleas were really prayers, sometimes spoken out loud, and sometimes silently. Then in my spirit, I waited.
Somehow, an answer would come to me in the form of a person or an idea . Not immediately most of the time.
Will couldn’t participate in organized sports. He didn’t understand running around the bases, or waiting in line to bat the ball. He couldn’t coordinate his hand to hit the basketball at the top of the bounce. A friend or a teacher told me about program at the local rehabilitation hospital for kids, which included group games and one-on-one swimming lessons. Someone else told us about therapeutic horse riding.
Will flicked light switches on and off at our house for years. On day I wondered if piano lessons would help him. Pressing a piano key is similar to flicking a light switch; flicking a light switch results in light, pressing a piano key results in sound. Shortly after that, one friend wanted to know if I would like a free piano. Another friend agreed to try to give Will piano lessons – just to see how it would go.
The challenges of this life can often leave us gasping. But God can gives strength to the weary.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
God’s strength is the answer to our weakness. His love is the balm to our souls.