Prayer and helplessness are inseparable.
— Ole Hallesby, Prayer

I received a gracious gift from my wife this week: a mini-sabatical of two and a half days by myself. As I write, I have been by myself for almost two full days now. I am recharging my batteries and spending time in study, writing, and prayer. With five children at home—one of them a newborn—this is truly a sacrificial gift. Thank you so much, sweetheart!

Because I struggle with prayer, I try to read on prayer so I can be encouraged to develop my prayer life with God. I wrote previously on Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life. Now, I am reading through “Prayer” by Ole Hallesby. It has been like water for my dry and weary soul.

He defines prayer as opening up your heart to Jesus, a simple definition of a word whose description is often elusive. For us to open up our hearts to Jesus, God often uses our helplessness to do so. Prayers out of helplessness are the prayers God loves.

Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray. Listen, my friend! Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes comes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness.
— Ole Hallesby. Prayer: Expanded Edition (Kindle Locations 111-114). Kindle Edition. 

God often has to correct my thinking that my maturity in Christ comes with more personal strength. In my process of maturity in Christ, I frequently imagine that growing in Christ (Ephesians 4) involves needing Him less. I desire a self-sufficiency because I am becoming sanctified. What I am finding—especially in the process of church planting, marriage, and raising five children—is that I am becoming more and more helpless. At least, my helplessness is being exposed more often.

I find myself being stretched in ways that I’ve never been stretched before. I am facing challenges that I’ve never had to face with in the past. I am dealing with questions to which I’ve never had to come up with the answers previously.

During my time away, I am learning that my helpless drives me to prayer. It doesn’t happen perfectly, and it doesn’t happen every time. Unfortunately, my helplessness drives me to despair and reacting like a child more than it should. But God allows us to stay in a state of helplessness because it is a good place to be. Strength and self-sufficiency drive me away from God. Helplessness draws me to Him. Because I know what I am capable of on my own, I will take nearness to God.