The Prayer of the Weak

by Abraham Cremeens

Weakness is not an American ideal. We run from it. We resonate with movies like Rocky, The Gladiator, and Mission Impossible because the heroes overcome impossible obstacles with great strength. The message we affirm is, “I want to be strong like him.”

But what happens when we are not Rocky, Maximus, or Ethan Hunt? I’m not. In fact, in the last decade of my life, I have been more aware of my weaknesses than ever before. I’m learning to celebrate that, or, to at least be okay with that.

While I am not unique nor special in my hardships, I can articulate plenty of weaknesses in my life. I struggle with loneliness at times. I have a hard time balancing the ever-present tension of being a good husband, dad, and pastor. I set goals and don’t keep them. I fight sin and fail. Sometimes I doubt my faith. I often doubt myself. I worry too much about what others think. And I eat too much sugar.

No, I’m not Rocky. I am Abraham, and I am weak. I’m learning to see that as a good thing, though. Weakness may not be an American ideal, but it is a biblical ideal. Why? Because it bridges the gap from self-sufficiency to Christ-sufficiency. Here is what the Bible says:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

This recently came closer to home for me when I walked through a particularly difficult season in my life. I came to Psalm 6 at that time, and God branded verse 2 to the interior of my soul. It has become my regular prayer for the last two years.

Be gracious to me, LORD, for I am weak...

Psalm 6:2 (CSB)

David wrote this psalm during a difficult season of his life. The occasion may have been God’s loving discipline due to sin in his life. Or his situation may have simply caused him to reflect on sin. Regardless, he noted his weakness, and he prayed. I am learning to do the same.

The prayer of weakness-turned-strength is “Give me grace, Lord, for I am weak.” It launches from my lips in the car on the way to work. It is on my breath as I prepare to preach with shaking knees. I have even made it into a song. It is more and more present as the prayer of my heart as I see my many weaknesses and inabilities to measure up. I am full of weakness, but that is okay because I am tethered to the one who is strong. So I pray, “Give me grace, Lord, for I am weak.”

You may be depressed, overcome with anger, falling short in multiple ways. Your faith may be weaker than you want. You may be all too aware of your deficiencies as a spouse, parent, or friend. You may eat too much sugar. While I don’t know your specific struggles, I do know you are weak. But that is not a knock on who you are. That is simply a loving nudge to embrace the prayer of the weak: “Give me grace, Lord, for I am weak.”