I know people who live out their “Christian” life in this way—God helps those who help themselves. They can't comprehend that the God who gave them life also wants to help them. I believe that God is intimately acquainted with me. But for me to be intimately acquainted with God takes humility. The God helps those who help themselves approach doesn’t allow room for humility. The emphasis is on the individual, the power of “me.”
Humility is the defining characteristic of an unpretentious and modest person, someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others (wikipedia.org). This is the attitude of a Jesus follower coming to confession. When I ask God to have mercy on me, it is the first step in acknowledging that my life is nothing without God’s presence and this moves me towards repentance. True confession, honest repentance cannot begin without this stepping.
“Helping ourselves” isn’t the Jesus way. God didn’t create us so that we could “go it alone” or “make our own way.” By asking for God’s mercy, I identify him as the Creator of my life. It is at this point of our saying, have mercy on me, O God that humility overtakes my pretentions and he can continue finishing the good work He has begun.
Have mercy on me, O God.
I cannot help myself and my life is nothing without you.