“I can do it by myself! I don’t need any help!”
How often have we said this? But as a result of this self-sufficient attitude, we only pray when we are faced with a big challenge, or when we are undergoing a major catastrophe. But are these “real” prayers?
Remember back when you were young? What if you had only approached your father when you wanted something from him? “Dad, I need a WeeBot!” “Dad, can I drive the car?” “Dad, I need a $1000.” Gradually, your lines of communication with your father would have closed. Likewise, if we only go to God when we’re in major trouble, we choose to close the doors on Him.
In John 5:19, Jesus says: “The Son can do nothing by himself.” If Jesus could do nothing by Himself, then how can we expect to do the best possible job without Him?
Consider this story:
“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:1-8)
Peter didn’t have a problem with Jesus preaching from his boat. He was probably longing to hear more of Jesus’ inspiring stories. But then Jesus surprised him by asking him to cast his nets and get ready to fish. I can just hear Peter’s reasoning: Just a minute, Jesus. You may be a master at telling inspiring stories, but I’m the fisherman here! You’ve never even fished before. Don’t go telling me how to do my job! We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything! Why should I be able to catch fish now, in the daylight? Stick to your preaching, and let me do the fishing!
But something in Jesus voice made Peter follow this order anyway, and he lowered the nets. All of a sudden the nets were filled with fish, and another boat had to come over to help Peter and his men. While standing in his boat, knee-deep in fish, Peter looked at His Master and said to Him: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
What did he mean? Probably something like this: I see what You mean. Even when I don’t see my need of help, even when I’m sure I can handle it myself, I now understand that I still need You!
Are we any better than Peter? Are we any better than Jesus, who said: “The Son can do nothing by Himself” (John 5:19)?
What about that assignment your boss asked you to do, or the phone call you are about to make? What about that new car you need to buy? The letter you need to write? That room you need to clean? What about that talk you need to have with your child, or the cupboard you need to clean? Sure, you could do it on your own, but wouldn’t it be done so much better with God’s help? If you want to do it right, do it in prayer, just as Jesus did!
Someone asked once a cleaning lady how she prayed. She said: “I don’t have any method of prayer. I just pray like this: When I wash my clothes, I pray, ‘Lord, wash my heart clean’. When I iron them, I say, ‘Lord, iron out all those troubles I can’t do nothing about.’ When I sweep the floor, I say, ‘Lord, sweep all the corners of my life like I’m sweeping this floor.’”