Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Faith, Prayer and Helplessness

The following is from an article on Baptism (pdf) written by Paul Spaulding.


    Faith, like salvation and grace, is not a substance you can have more or less of. Faith is also not a mental action or step. Faith involves the person as a surrounding, enveloping and permeating gift. When it breaks through the human shell, we experience what we often call “getting faith”. Really “getting faith” is a non-act of surrender to what is already there, a letting go of our control. It is unhindered and unencumbered trust.

    Faith therefore is simply non-resistance. It is helplessness. Ole Hallesby in his classic book on Prayer talks about our coming to God and how faith is involved. Let me quote several passages.
“As far as I can see, prayer has been ordained only for the helpless...

“Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only he who is helpless can truly pray...

“To pray is to open the door unto Jesus and admit Him into your distress...

“Helplessness is the real secret and the impelling power of prayer. You should... thank God for the feeling of helplessness He has given you. It is one of the greatest gifts that God can impart to us. For it is only when we are helpless that we open our hearts to Jesus and let Him help us in our distress, according to His grace and mercy.”
He continues,
“I never grow weary of emphasizing our helplessness, for it is the decisive factor not only in our prayer life, but in our whole relation to God... (God) does not need any help; all He needs is access.”
    “All He needs is access!” That is a startling revelation and a stumbling block for many an individual. Yet that is exactly what Scripture says. Jesus says in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Later on in verse 16 he says, “You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” Paul says in Romans 9:16, “so it depends not on man’s will or exertion but on God’s mercy.” In Second Corinthians 12:9 he quotes His Lord saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

    Faith and life in Christ are a gift given by God to helpless sinners. As adults, you and I have had years to practice blocking that gift. We repeatedly block His access to our distress. We are sinners, that is, rebels, from birth. But over the years we add to our sinful nature the mental idolatry of being our own little Gods. We want to do things for ourselves, even salvation.

    That is why, when an adult is converted, that conversion occurs only when that person quits fighting and can just plain be a sinner; that is, someone God can reach. That is why Jesus said, “ I came not to call the righteous but sinners.” That is why He said, “Unless you come like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children are not innocent, they are simply helpless sinners. God loves sinners. Children are what we need to be. They have the kind of faith (helpless accessibility) we need for salvation. This is what “saving faith” means, the kind of faith God both gives and honors.


I encourage you to look at Paul Spaulding's entire article on Baptism - 9 pages (pdf).  Taking time to read and study can truly help you grow in trusting Jesus Christ, so you can be healed and made whole.


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