I've heard it a thousand times. I've probably said it a thousand times myself. Someone bares their soul to me, and the situation is terrible, painful, difficult ... far beyond the reach of anything I can do – or anyone can do – to help. And then those six words slip from my lips:

"All I can do is pray."

Even as I write the words, I can hear the defeat resonating from them. Properly translated, what I far too often mean when I say those six words is, "I'm sorry I can't do anything to help. I don't have the resources you need. I wish I did. I'll pray about it, but I know that's just a drop in the bucket to what you really need. I don't expect anything to really happen as a result of my prayers."

Then one day as I said it, God rocked me back on my heels. I realized how much I was cheapening God by the attitude behind my words. Think about it:

"All I can do is pray. I'm sorry – all I can do is call upon the sovereign Lord of the Universe, the One who holds all resources, all grace, all power, all hope in his hands. All I can do is ask the loving God who sent his Son to die for us and then raised him from the dead to help you out. All I can do is ask God to demonstrate his divine character in your life through his unending providence, generosity, love, miracles, presence, and care. Sorry I can't do more."

It comes down to a question of attitude and a recognition of adequacy. As Paul writes in II Corinthians 3:5 "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming form ourselves, but our adequacy is from God." Our attitude should be one of humility, recognizing that our adequacy to meet any need or act in any situation is from God alone.

Once we assume that attitude and understand that our adequacy comes from God, we will no longer despair when we are faced with situations that are beyond our control or help. We simply turn in the same humility to the God who is more than adequate to meet every need – and call upon him for deliverance.

With the right attitude and an understanding of where our resources always and only ever come from, we can truly reach out and say with confidence and trust, "I can't help you. I wish I could, but I simply don't have the resources you need. Fortunately, I know the One who does. All I can do is pray – but I know that God will take care of everything else."

© 2009 Paula Marolewski

Author's Bio: 

Paula J. Marolewski provides challenging and interactive adult Bible studies for individuals, Bible studies, small groups, and adult Sunday School classes at Sink Your Roots (www.SinkYourRoots.com). Studies include such topics as Debunking the Myths about Knowing God's Will. The site also offers free weekly Seedlings - “Little thoughts that grow big results.”