Do you ever feel like you are on your own? Do you ever get into something and think that maybe you should have gotten some help? Like when you find yourself halfway through a project, and need to get something from the next room (maybe a power tool or a bucket), but you’re still holding the project together with one hand. Or, when you are stuck under a car trying to keep the oil from running out. That’s a really good time to have someone helping you out.
Children can be great helpers on projects around the house. However, like when I was a kid and my dad needed help – my own children would often like to be doing something more fun. I still have them help, though, hoping that some day – like my own experience – their dad’s lessons will prove useful in the long run.
The good news is that God knows that we need help, and provides – through Himself – what we need when we reach our limits. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways that He does this.
Jesus, our High Priest
We should know by now that we fall short of the ideal for which we were created. Left to our own choices, we are not righteous enough to be in the presence of a holy God. While I may sometimes fall into the category of “less than 50% righteous” (i.e., not even more righteous than unrighteous), a simple majority wouldn’t be holy enough to earn face-to-face time with God. Even a super-majority (say, 2/3 or 3/4 righteous) falls short. God’s standard – because of who He is – is 100% righteous (see James 2:10-11, although a study of the law, as described in the book of James, is a much more complex topic).
Where we fall short, though, Jesus (God the Son) intercedes for us*. First, after living a sinless life, Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself paid for our sins, leaving us to accept this gift and follow Him. After that, though, He speaks on our behalf to God the Father. See how John describes this:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2 NASB
(You can look up propitiation, yourself, but that’s the part where Jesus’ sacrifice deflected our own deserved punishment.)
So, when you don’t feel worthy of talking with God…you’re right: based on our own merits, we don’t deserve to have that opportunity. However, Jesus not only made a way to take care of our sin, but actively stands up for us – even “defending” us, in a legal sense – to a holy God, whose holiness requires justice (see Romans 3:26 – I like how the New American Standard Bible translation makes this point). That’s a good thing!
The Holy Spirit’s Intervention
Furthermore, even if Jesus has made it possible for us to talk with God, sometimes we just don’t know how to articulate what we want to say.
Have you ever been so frustrated with someone (certainly not your kids!) that you couldn’t remember his or her name? Have you ever been so heartbroken, or in pain so great, that you couldn’t even put together a sentence? (I remember being on a gurney once – in pretty severe pain – and seeing my wife arrive. I eked out a feeble, “hi, honey” – or something like that – but I was definitely not much of a conversationalist at that point.)
Here, Romans 8:26-27 shows us that the Holy Spirit (i.e., the third person of God) helps us out*. When we don’t know what to say, He fills in the gaps.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27 NASB
As a result, we can talk to God with the most fluent of dialogue (if that’s how we talk, normally), or in special terms we reserve for our prayers (if we choose to do so). But, we can also just chat with Him like we’d talk with others, or we can cry out to Him with whatever we have. The Holy Spirit translates what we are feeling into expressions of our heart to God.
So, what should we do with this knowledge? Let me propose two things:
- First, we can be grateful. We are so much smaller than God (having been created by Him), but He reached out to us and made a way for us to talk and walk with Him. That’s worth our praise and thanks.
- Second, we can be confident. We don’t have to be afraid to talk to God, nor should we ever hesitate to do so. May we make conversations with God – while respectful – as frequent and as normal as conversations with those we care about here on earth.
Enjoy your conversations with God this week – both in talking and listening. Know that – if you don’t get it right, God Himself is helping you out.
For more reading on a related subject, see Why Can We Pray to God?
(* By the way, I can’t explain how God is three persons and one God, but maybe you can find someone else who can. Metaphors abound, but it seems that this aspect of God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, so we are left to just approximate it.)