When You Don’t Know How To Pray
In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.
A man remembered wistfully, “I always knew my grandmother was praying for me- when I was at my best and when I was at my worst, I knew that she was praying that I’d follow God.” It’s tremendously encouraging to know that somebody us enough to spend time in prayer for us, and Paul tells us an amazing fact: The Holy Spirit continuously prays to the Father for us!
Sometimes we want to pray but we’re confused. Conflicts in marriage or with our kids, problems at work, an unexpected diagnosis of disease, or some other calamity boggles our minds and clouds our hearts. We know we need God’s intervention, but we don’t know how to pray. During those times, we can feel lost, empty, and helpless. But at those very moments, the Spirit of God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, brings our needs to the Father’s throne of grace.
The Spirit’s prayers for us aren’t glib, meaningless ramblings. He groans in His intercession for us, with passion, intensity, and deep concern for our welfare.
On most days, we have a good idea of God’s plan for us in our interactions and decisions that day, and the Spirit is praying along with us. On those days when we don’t have a clue what to pray, we can rely on the Spirit’s loving concern to either give us insight about what we can pray or to pray for us when we feel completely overwhelmed. Either way, we feel encouraged that He is our Advocate in a difficult situation.
To the individual believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is granted the direct impression of the Spirit of God on the Spirit of man, imparting knowledge of His will in matters of the smallest and greatest importance. This has to be sought and waited for.
G. Campbell Morgan
At all times and in every situation we know that at least two individuals are praying for us- Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore He is able also to save forever (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on their behalf [with God].”
“Who is the one who condemns us? Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us.”
Both the above scriptures tell us that at all times Christ is interceding for us. In His invitation to us He invites us to come to Him when we feel the heavy weight and burden of life and He promises rest. He takes up our cause, bears our burden, and intercedes to the Father on our behalf. I hope that thought lifts your heart today to be reminded of such a great Intercessor. One things for sure, He always knows what to pray and always prays in accordance with the will of the Father. We also know that Jesus never prays a prayer that doesn’t get an answer. The One who instructed us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” always asks in complete agreement with the Father.
In our scripture today, Paul tells us of the other Intercessor, the Holy Spirit. He also intercedes for us and when we don’t have words to express our needs and struggles, He takes our groans and translates them into requests before the throne of God. Prayer for us can be nothing more than sounds without words and when we invite the Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us, He takes our inability to find the right words to say and says them for us. What an amazing gift God has given to us!
But it gets better when we are reminded about a principle of prayer that Jesus taught- the principle of agreement. Listen to what He said:
“Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among
Matthew 18: 19-20
Now if two humans agreeing in prayer can receive such answers, how much more is that principle true for Jesus and the Holy Spirit when they ask in agreement for us? The only if in the equation is you and I. Will we come to Jesus with our burdens? Will we reach out to the Holy Spirit in those times when words fail us and trust Him to speak for us?
God has set in motion the privilege of prayer for humans to find help in the time of need. He has set Christ at the right hand of the throne who makes constant intercession for us, pleading our case. He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and be with us, who intercedes for us with groans when we don’t know what to say. If we will come before God with our burdens and even if we can do nothing more than sit before Him in silence, God will hear our cry. As we come before the throne, Christ will acknowledge that we are children of God, those He redeemed by His own blood and whose names are in the Book of Life. As we sit before the throne, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and often give us the words to speak as He searches our heart. If you will just attempt to pray, God will assist you in doing so. I think that the devil and the world and perhaps the church at times have worked to discourage us in praying. We have been given the impression that our words must be correct and proper. We have been told that our phrases and sentences must be formed to reflect a correct perception of God. And there are those who insist that we use King James verbiage such as Thee and Thou. The blind man sitting outside Jericho might just give us a clue to a prayer that captures the heart of God. “Jesus, Son of David,” he said, “have mercy on me.” Nothing elegant or profound in those words. Just a heart from a needy person crying out to the One who can help.
Little children as they are learning to communicate often begin with sounds and then single words and on to simple sentences, and yet they are confident that their parents can interpret their requests and answer them. Wherever you are on the scale today, whether at the sound phase or full sentence phase, reach out to God in prayer and you will find your two prayer partners, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, joining in with you. You will find their encouragement, intercession and empowerment as you are seeking from the Father.
Dr. John Thompson