Asking for help as a form of prayer and spiritual self-care: reflections on seeking support

Asking for help with shame says: You have the power over me. Asking with condescension says: I have the power over you. But asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other. — Amanda Palmer

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee…
― Oscar Wilde

Lord, I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. … I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone. — Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Poem Excerpt Alice Walker
The children of Earth Are starving
For the sight Of something Real
Dying for the sound Of something True.
Pray for us To know
That nothing Stops a lie
Like being Yourself. 


A Franciscan Blessing

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and to the poor.


Questions to consider:

  • When has asking for help brought about growth & strengthening of yourself or a situation?
  • When have others said YES when you sought support? When have people said NO when you asked for help?
  • When have others asked you for help? What allowed you to say YES? What caused you to say NO?
  • Who in your life is a role model for allowing others to provide support and help? What do you learn from this person?
  • Who in your life is a role model for offering help to others?

Asking & Giving Help

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. — Dalai Lama

In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. ‘Help me.’ — Iyanla Vanzant

Prayer is more of a relay race. Its what we do for each other and what we do for the world. When we pray,  we hold ourselves and our loved ones and the world up to God. And then we pass it off for the next person to do the same. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

We’re all imperfect and we all have needs. The weak usually do not ask for help, so they stay weak. If we recognize that we are imperfect, we will ask for help and we will pray for the guidance necessary to bring positive results to whatever we are doing. — John Wooden

There are many doors to goodness. (Saying) ‘glory to God,’ ‘praise be to God,’ ‘there is no deity but God,’ enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf (until you understand them), leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the weak with the strength of one’s arms – all of these are (forms of) charity prescribed for you. — Prophet Muhammad You must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. C.S. Lewis

Requesting help … encourages you to get closer to others. Opening yourself up to receive assistance means relating, which is an essential need for every person. A shared experience, even at a time when you struggle, can increase empathy and understanding. It makes you feel as though you are not the only person going through a tough time, making you feel less alone, too. You also feel grateful when someone helps you. This can help reduce fear and depression. You see kindness in someone else, and you appreciate that quality. Finally, you can feel more confident in your own ability to change and grow when you ask for help. Achieving this “growth mindset” reinforces that it’s common to need assistance and common to give it. — 7SummithPathways

… life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ — Billy Graham Well, I’ve heard people say that God is the gift of desperation, and there’s a lot to be said for having really reached a bottom where you’ve run out of anymore good ideas, or plans for everybody else’s behavior; or how to save and fix and rescue; or just get out of a huge mess, possibly of your own creation. And when you’re done, you may take a long, quavering breath and say, ‘Help.’ People say ‘help’ without actually believing anything hears that. But it is the great prayer, and it is the hardest prayer, because you have to admit defeat — you have to surrender, which is the hardest thing any of us do, ever. A lot of the time we don’t know when we’re surrendering that we’re actually, at the same time, maybe establishing connection … to a power greater than ourselves — or something in the next concentric circle out whose name is not me. So, that to me is where help begins. You know, we’re often ashamed of asking for so much help because it seems selfish or petty or narcissistic, but I think, if there’s a God — and I believe there is — that God is there to help. That’s what God’s job is. — Anne Lamott

5 Mistaken Beliefs About Asking for Help (excerpt)
 — Lorie Corcuera, Inc.com

… Let’s evaluate why people often find it difficult to ask for and receive support.

  • Assumption 1: It’s a sign of weakness. If I can’t do it on my own, I must not know how to do it or I don’t have the skills or resources to do it.
  • Assumption 2: Allowing someone else to help me means I lose control of the situation.
  • Assumption 3: If I receive support then I have to reciprocate. What if I can’t return the favor? What if I don’t want to return the favor?
  • Assumption 4: If I ask for the support of others, I am burdening them. They are just as busy as me so how could they find the time to help out?
  • Assumption 5: I am the only one that can do it my way. It’s easier and quicker for me to do it than to train or teach someone else to help me.

These are all very strong stories we tell ourselves about what it could mean to ask for and to receive support. It’s no wonder we don’t do it often and why we are all feeling overwhelmed, and distracted, and we overcompensate for tasks that continuously exhaust our abilities and energy.

… When I consider some of the greatest leaders of our time–Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Oprah and the Dalai Lama–to name a few, they all have something in common. They inspired people through sharing their failures and admitting they didn’t have all the answers. These leaders were also openly grateful for the love and support of their circle and thus, attracted more of the same. They knew and understood they had a “village” supporting them on their journey.

Leaders who are aware, conscious, continuously growing personally and professionally, and who courageously ask for and openly receive support are stronger. Here’s why…

  1. When you ask for support, you maintain focus and energy as the task is shared with others. You create more FLOW making the journey fun and easy.
  2. When you ask for support, you create opportunities for others to share their gifts and talents. You empower others to shine, and you learn more about others’ strengths and passions.
  3. When you ask for support, you allow others to experience the happiness that comes from giving. When we give or receive a gift, we release oxytocin, a powerful bond-stimulating hormone.
  4. When you ask for support, you are trusting in others, which strengthens the trust between you and your supporters.
  5. When you ask for support, you are stating that you are imperfect just like everyone else and others will relate to you. No one is perfect and everyone has room to grow.

In summary, there is strength in being vulnerable, in being human. We were designed to co-create life changing experiences together.

Who can you ask for support today and give the gift of giving?

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