How do I ask God for help when I feel helpless?
Jed Brewer replied:
Helpless can mean a lot of different things, but, I’m guessing that you’re referring to temptation. As in, “How do I ask God for help when I feel like I know I’m gonna do this wrong thing, even though I know I shouldn’t?”
Here’s my next guess – you aren’t wondering so much about asking for help, as receiving help. I mean, the asking part is pretty easy: “God! Help!” (God doesn’t have any problem with a prayer just like that…)
But receiving that help requires a couple of things.
First, you have to want it. See, for me, when I’m doing something I know I shouldn’t, maybe I don’t want to be helped out of it. ‘Cause I like whatever that thing is. So, I think step one is being honest about where we’re at. So, for example, “God, I like this sin. I want to do this sin. I don’t want to stop doing this sin. I know that’s wrong. And, deep down, I want you more than I want any sin. But I need you to show me how to move forward, ‘cause, Lord, I really, really like this sin.” God can roll with that, and honesty is where we start.
Second, receiving God’s help requires you to believe that he can help you. A lot of guys I work with feel like when temptation comes a-callin’, they have no choice. Seriously. It’s just, the devil says, “Do this”, and now I gotta.
Well, you don’t gotta, but I bet you can feel the same way. (I know I can.) The old routine of, “I’ve done this a thousand times before, so, probably, I’m doomed to keep doing this sin forever, and nothing will ever change. Probably God can’t do anything about it.” I bet you know that feeling. And I bet you can see pretty much immediately what’s wrong it.
God can change things in your life. No matter what you’re stuck on, and no matter how long you’ve been stuck on it, God can set you free. I know this to be true; I have tried it for myself.
Part of how God frees us from things, though, is through understanding. If you asked the Lord to set you free from a sin that was really messing you up, part of what he would likely want to do is to give you some understanding about why you’re drawn to that sin in the first place. What is it that you like about it? What is it you’re getting out of it? I’ll give you an example.
Everyone everywhere struggles or has struggled with internet pornography. And we all know it’s bad, yes. But, if you asked the Lord, “What’s the deal with me and porno? I need understanding on this issue,” here’s part of what the Lord might show you.
- You looking at porno functions as a stress reliever
- You looking at porno alleviates boredom
- You tend to look at porno when you’re feeling lonely
Ok, well, all of a sudden, it’s a whole different ballgame. We know that, if we want to deal with pornography, then we, at the very least, need to find healthy stress relieving activities, and maybe figure out a way to have a lower stress-level to begin with. We need to find some new interests and pursuits that engage our passions and imaginations. (Y’all are incredibly cool, creative people – none of you need to be bored.) And, if we’re feeling lonely, then we need to build some newer and deeper relationships with other people.
And that leads to the last thing about receiving God’s help. There’s what a theologian might call a “participatory” roll for you to play. In other words, there’s something God wants you to do as a part of him helping you.
So, say you’re there, thinking about doing whatever that thing is, and you say, “God! Help!” Well, maybe all of a sudden it occurs to you, “Prolly, I should call my friend Bob and go hang out. I can’t really be cutting when I’m with Bob at Taco Hut.”
See, God’s showing you a way out in that moment – just like he promised he would (1 Cor 10:13). But that way out involves you choosing it. Picking up the phone, dialing Bob’s number, and saying, “What’s up, Bobby, it’s hang time.”
Make no mistake, God wants to help you. Always, no matter what. And if we’ll cultivate a relationship with him based on honesty, remembering that God is able, if we’ll seek understanding from the Lord, and then choose to live out steps based on that understanding, we’ll find ourselves receiving God’s help in unlimited supply.