November 22, 2022
Praying in Partnership With the Holy Spirit
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“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Dear Lord, I prayed, peeking at my prayer journal in front of me, these ladies need You.
Pausing, I searched for my next words. They’ve walked away from You … they’re ignoring You … and they’ve forgotten that You really can fix the situations they’re facing.
The facts laid out, I launched into my petition: Can You wake them up and —
I stopped. To my ears, this sounded judgmental and clumsy at best. I was making a mess of this “prayer” thing.
While I was once close with the women on my prayer list, I’d lost contact with them over the years, only hearing about their tough life situations from social media or friends and family members. My heart broke when I heard two of them had renounced their faith in God.
Prayer is now the greatest influence I can have in their lives. But how should I pray for them? Many times, I find myself just reciting the list of names, trusting that God knows what they need better than I do.
We all know prayer is a significant part of our faith journey. Yet one of the greatest hindrances to a healthy prayer life is the same one I face: “I don’t know the words to use,” I often hear new and not-so-new believers say. We feel clumsy, limited and so very human.
That’s why I love Paul’s encouraging words from Romans 8:26-27: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
How reassuring! God’s Holy Spirit lives within us. God knows our deepest thoughts, even the thoughts we can’t put into words. The Holy Spirit interprets our wordless groans and infuses our squeaky, one-word calls of “Help!” He translates our faulty theology and revises our rough-hewn grammar to align with His will and His plans for the person we’re praying for.
How does this happen? Perhaps you’ve had a taste of this in everyday life. You become so close to a friend or your spouse that you can complete each other’s sentences. When one person’s tongue gets tangled, the other — instead of correcting the mistake — says, “I knew what you meant.”
In time, like any other skill, our efforts at prayer will improve. We’ll crave to know how to pray more specifically. I find myself imploring the Lord, Show me how to pray for this person. Many times, sometimes even within that day, I’ll find out details about them that help me specify my prayers.
Yet even in my finest moments of verbal clarity or in my closest relationships, I have to admit God still knows the person and the situation better than I do, and the Holy Spirit is still doing His work of intercession on my behalf.
God knows us more intimately than the human beings closest to us. As we stutter over our prayers, God, in His grace, smiles and says, “I know what you mean.” Better yet, He’ll add, “I’m ready to help.”
Lord, thank You for Your partnership in my prayer life to fill in the gaps of my fragmented prayers for others. Help me grow in my communication skills with You, and in the meantime, thank You for Your grace and patience with my prayer life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Colossians 1:9, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives …” (NIV)
Read Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church in Colossians 1:9-12. How does this help you pray for someone who struggles with their faith?
Have you seen the life of someone you’ve prayed for be transformed by God’s Spirit? Share that story of transformation in the comments.
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