Sometimes All I Can Pray Is, "Help!"
I read a tweet today that said, “Sometimes the only prayer you can muster is, “Help!””
Amen to that.
I’m rarely one to nap. But some days, when long weeks are followed by early weekend mornings, the universe leaves me no choice. Normally my brain doesn’t shut off long enough for me to sleep amidst a day; when the sun is shining the pressure of productivity and task completion are all too real. I can’t live with time that feels wasted, so naps have just never been for me. But on this particular day, a nap quickly became a necessity. The exhaustion coupled with the cold weather persuaded me with little resistance.
As I laid there, I began talking to Jesus. My confessions were real, my frustrations were real, and my tears were real. I prayed for something I’ve prayed for every day for a year and seven months. It’s a bold prayer, it’s a specific prayer, and it’s an impossible prayer. One that only Jesus can answer. As I prayed, I realized in great humiliation that I didn’t believe for a second that God would answer it. Could He hear me? Yes, absolutely. Was He able to act on my request? Without a doubt.
But I didn’t believe He would. Honestly, I still don’t.
I confessed my unbelief in that moment, but that didn’t ease it. It was still alive and well. I was still overcome and paralyzed by my doubt. But as quickly as my confession came, so did His grace. He told me, in that moment, that it was ok. That there was a shred of faith in me, evidenced in the prayer itself. I didn’t see it, I didn’t recognize it, but why would I ask if there wasn’t something in me that knew that in Him was hope? Maybe that’s why the man in Mark 9 was able to say both “I believe!” and “Help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24)
There have been moments of bold faith for me in this season. Moments where I have believed in the craziness of walking with Jesus, in the possibility of seeing a miracle happen right before my eyes. But there have also been moments of disappointment. Countless times I’ve thought, “Man, this would be a great time for you to do this Lord,” but instead my hopes have been shattered, as God seems to have missed opportunity after opportunity. I’ve felt alone and I’ve felt His presence overwhelming me. I’ve felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled, but I’ve also felt content. I’ve definitely felt crazy, yet exactly where I am supposed to be. You name it, I’ve felt it and lived it the past year and a half.
I’ve wanted and attempted to give up so many times. Deep down, I’m afraid to hope, to keeping hoping. Afraid to really give this dream to Jesus. Afraid that even He, the Creator and lover of my soul, will break me, leave me shattered in unfulfilled dreams, wasted prayers and withered faith. So I try to turn it off, resist hope and avoid disappointment. It’s safer, it’s cleaner. But as I’ve found, it’s also dead. I become numb to feeling anything at all and yes, I avoid disappointment, but I also avoid the deepest of joys. There’s no life in that and Jesus died for us to live and live abundantly (Jn 10:10).
Peter says that we, as believers, are born into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus (1 Pt 1:3). Just as Jesus is alive, so is our hope. No matter what, we will live and we will have the love and affection of Jesus, which is in fact what our souls are really craving. The dreams I have are His to hold. And this specific one, I believe He put within me, otherwise I would have willed it out of me a long time ago, believe me.
I think it’s ok to have faith so small sometimes you can’t find it, faith that’s as small as a mustard seed (Matt 17:20). It’s there, sweet follower of Jesus, and He is pleased by it because the weakness of our humanity is the showcase of His greatness and His strength. Let that inkling lead you to the Cross, to hope in the person of Jesus, no matter the shattered dreams that seem to be scattered at your feet. Choose to believe that He has the best dream of all, far greater than what you could work out for yourself, because He cares deeply for you (1 Pt 5:7). If you can’t find the faith, pray. And if all you can pray is “Help!” then just start there. Pray and then pray some more. He is painting a beautiful picture, not just for you, but of you. He will turn the smallest of faiths into the greatest of stories.