Why are the desperate people the only ones praying powerful prayers?
Helplessness stares me in the face when I am desperate. It’s like reaching into an empty pocket for the last dime and coming up with nothing but lint. And the cashier sure doesn’t want trade the #3 Combo Meal for my lint.
Its uncomfortable, but such desperation is a key to powerful prayer.
Only the desperate recognize their utter helplessness. They are empty of themselves. They are ready to cling to the promises of God. And all of those things are necessary for powerful prayer.
“We are to be nothing, and the less we are and the weaker we are, the better; for the the less we have of self the more room there is for Christ’s divine grace…He asks nothing of you but that you will be nothing, and that He may be all in all to you.” – Charles Spurgeon
David gives us a God-inspired model for desperate prayer.
Desperate prayer is modeled for us by David in Psalm 86:1-7:
Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
3 Characteristics of desperate prayer
Drawing from David’s prayer, we see three characteristics of a desperate prayer:
1. Ernest desire to be heard and answered
Our half-hearted, mumbly prayers evidence our apathy. We don’t even care to be heard. We don’t expect an answer. We’re probably not even sure why we are praying.
Contrast that with David, who begged God to listen and answer: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me.” David cared deeply about the requests he brought before God in prayer.
2. Recognition of need, helplessness, and poverty
David confessed his bankruptcy upfront, recognizing his inability to meet a crushing need. “I am poor and needy.” Likewise, we must realize we can’t come to God in prayer to cut a deal as wealthy merchants. We have nothing to trade. We’re dirt poor beggars.
What happens when we misdiagnose our condition?
We start looking like boy scouts slapping on bandaids to save a heart attack victim. “Nah Scoutmaster, we don’t need help. We’ll have this under control soon as Shorty finds the duct tape.” Misdiagnosis leads to a false hope in some crummy, self-concocted rescue plan. It drains our prayers of the crucial element of desperation.
3. Pleading a case for grace
David was quick to build a case before God. David’s only argument was built on God’s own character. God’s own goodness would compel God to act on behalf of the prayer warrior on his knees, and David was banking on that grace.
This is also a check on the heart: Am I desperate for something that God can put His character behind? A lot of selfish desires die when we align ourselves with God’s will, wanting what He wants.
Our hope lies in God’s commitment to God
The hope of a desperate prayer warrior lies in God’s commitment to God. God will remain faithful to His promises, for He cannot deny Himself.
God’s commitment to God is extended to man through the promises found in the Word. God can’t remain true to Himself without remaining true to His children. What a staggering thought for a desperate man on his knees.
On another note:
If you struggle with spending too much time surfing the internet, watching TV, or any other tech-related activity, I urge you to take a look at Don’s recent post. It is an excellent challenge to keep a log of where you spend your non-work related tech time, then evaluate it, attempt to cut the time down drastically, and find something better to do with yourself. I can relate to the circumstances that spawned Don’s idea. I hope some of you will join in.