Do you ever come before the Lord feeling like the puniest pray-er on the face of the earth? Sometimes we get the impression from prayer teachers that it is a shameful thing not to be a muscle-bound intercessor — because we’re prayer warriors, right?
Additionally, we’re frequently taught that we should never pray “up” from the place of earth toward the Lord, because He’s already delegated His authority to us. We are seated together with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), so we’re supposed to use our authority to legislate down into the earth from that position. Always decree downward, never plead upward, right?
Yet, I think if we’re honest, most of us experience times of frailty, when we don’t know where to begin, much less how to carry our prayer to a successful outcome. We’re not feelin’ our warrior status, and we’re certainly not sensing that throne solidly beneath us, are we!
It’s OK. You don’t have to give yourself an “F” in Prayer 101. There are many facets of prayer. Legislating downward from your heavenly throne place is one. Praying from earth upward is another. Both are biblical. In fact, until we’ve learned to pray upward, we’ll never be much good at legislating downward. Let me explain.
God does not scorn our weakness, “for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). Weak or strong, He answers us, for it’s about His goodness and our relationship with Him, not our ability. He sometimes deliberately puts us in a place of acutely knowing our frailty to help us recognize our deep need for Him. This is why He said, “God … gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:5-7).
When we come before the Lord confessing our weakness and inability, reaching upward in our helpless state to Him, that is powerful prayer, because it fixes our attention in the right place — on the Lord. Indeed, it is the message of Psalm 121:1, 2: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, where my help comes from. My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.”
God uses these times of weakness to bring us into yieldedness, where we submit to His limitless sovereignty and trust Him there. He teaches us to know Him as “He with Whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13) and “He Who ought to be feared” (Psalm 76:11).
The Lord doesn’t leave us in the place of weakness, though. As we pray through our doubts, fears, confusion, and need for Him, inch by inch we gain His strength and eternal perspective. He takes us into “building up ourselves on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20), which is, I believe, about using our prayer language. We get to the place where we see our situation as He sees it, so that we can, in the right moment, speak into it from our position of being seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Don’t beat yourself up when you feel your prayers are weak. Use your weak times to lean into the Lord for His strength. For His strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He receives glory.