Mike Novotny - Helpless People Pray
A few weeks ago I asked our church a pretty dangerous question. The question was, if youvhad to give yourself a grade, how would you grade your prayer life? Now some people told me that was a dangerous question because you know grading anything of our spiritual life is a good way to feel less than and guilty, and unworthy of God's love. But I was pretty curious how the people at our church thought about these daily conversations with God that we call prayer. And so 159 brothers and sisters in the faith responded, they gave me their personal grades and the grades were, well, not great. C plus pastor, someone admitted, C minus pastor, maybe a B, D, D plus, D minus, C, C plus, four.
I wasn't sure well what a four meant. But people really confessed that despite their passion for Jesus and the Bible, this connection with Father, they struggled with prayer. And some people admitted that they felt like they were babbling in prayer. Their minds would get distracted in prayer, that connection with God wasn't exactly what they wanted it to be. And in a way I'm kind of glad they said that because for the longest time as a Christian, I've kind of felt the same way. And not just because I'm imperfect and I'm a sinful person with a sinful heart. The struggle that I have often felt is that prayer doesn't feel to me like many other parts of my spiritual life. I feel good about church, I feel great about reading the Bible at home, but I've never felt quite there with prayer.
And that's why I'm so glad that Jesus showed me something in his teaching. Soon after I gave that survey to God's people, I came across this passage that helped me reframe the whole idea of prayer. And it's a passage I want to share with you from Matthew chapter 18. Here's what Jesus said, Jesus said, Jesus said that if we want to be great in his Kingdom, if we want to be great in faith mature in prayer that we should change he says and become like little children.
Now what exactly does that mean? In church about a month ago, I had a little child come up on stage with me, a little kid about five years old came up with his father and I asked the kid to take a running start and give Pastor Mike a high five. And so this little boy, like a lot of little boys that you've met, he was really excited. He told me he was really good at jumping, but just before I counted to three and had him run, I lifted my hand about this high, I went up on my toes. And the kid jumped and failed and he looked up at me and said, "I can't". So I gave him another try and he revved the engine, I lifted up my hand, and he jumped and failed. And he said, "I can't".
So I kind of crouch down and look at this kid and I said "Is there any way you think that you could"? And I pointed over his shoulder at his father. And he turned around to his dad and lifted up his arms and his father lifted him up and boom the high five happened. And that's exactly what I think Jesus is saying. What makes you and what makes me great at prayer, great in the kingdom of God? It's the simple admission like little children, that we can't. If I think I can save myself, I can make up for my sin, I can handle this situation. I'm probably not going to talk to my father about it. But if like that little kid, I see some big thing that I'm facing, and I just turn around to God and say I can't, I need your help.
That simple truth, that belief deep in your heart will make you constant in your conversation with God. Helpless people pray. That's the lesson Jesus taught me. It's what I want to pass on to you, people who know that they're helpless, like little children pray. They talk to God. And as Jesus later said, whoever humbles themselves will be exalted, lifted up by the Father. So today whether your personal grade is a D minus or a B plus or somewhere in between, I want you to remember that simple teaching from Jesus helpless people pray. So change, become like a little child and you might find yourself constantly talking to your Father in heaven. Let's pray:
Jesus, we can't, but you always can. You can lift us up and overcome obstacles, temptations and you can save us the most important thing that we can't do. Thank you for hearing this prayer, thank you that you love the lowly and the weak, the meek and the humble. We come to you just like that by the power of your spirit asking you to do what we can't. That's why we pray. In your name Jesus. Amen.
It's not easy to pray. So I would love to know what has helped you stay connected to your Father in heaven. Is there a person over the years that's taught you something insightful about prayer? I'd love for you to give them a shout out and tag them and thank them for that gift. Is there a Bible passage that has been the one you run to, that has convinced you of the privilege of prayer? Let us know about it. That way we can encourage each other to pray more each day to our Father in heaven. Thanks for helping out and have a great day.