Henri Nouwen, a prolific writer of Christian spirituality, described prayer as requiring us to "stand in God's presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing." In the opening lines of Psalm 80, the people of Israel plead before God to "stir up your might and come to save us." At its core this plea to God is indeed prayer. We, though, are loathe to ask for help and certainly would not want to come off as too needy and dependent upon God. Instead, our inclination is to marshal our own resources. If and when they run out, we figure that we can always call on God as a last ditch effort. Truth be told, genuine prayer— admitting our reliance upon God's strength—is not the easy way out. In fact, it takes great courage to face our brokenness and our deep need for God's deliverance.
Psalm 80:1-3 (NRSV)
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.