Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
As we groan with all creation, we notice in ourselves much weakness. We don’t even know how to pray! Sometimes, far too often, we don’t pray. Even when we do, what are we even doing?
As we should, we thank the Lord for our food and His many blessings toward us at meal times. This is good, for He is truly gracious to us. Often though, when we sit down to our meals and pray, there is much on our mind that we should be bringing to the Lord but we just say thank you and proceed to the meal.
How often do we pray and wonder, “should I even be praying about that?”
In all of this, the Lord is not taken by surprise. Praise Him for this! He knows our weakness much better than we do. We don’t know what we should pray for. The Bible says this very clearly. So many books written to help us pray more effectively could have been saved if we would just take God at His word.
Our help will not come from a better formula, more fervency, or a humbler posture. The Apostle Paul tells us of a much greater help: the Spirit itself!
Notice also, that the Spirit is not said to help us pray more effectively, He intercedes for us, with the words that we can’t get past our teeth, or out of our minds and into our mouths, or even into our minds in the first place!
However poorly we take up the task of intercessory prayer, it is a comfort to know that the Comforter is interceding for us. How much more comforting to know that He is not getting it wrong. He intercedes for us according to the will of God. We probably don’t always pray according to the will of God, but He never prays any other way!
What a wonderful gift this Spirit of God is to the believer!
“Lord, teach us to pray.”
The disciples of our Lord must have seen this weakness in themselves as well. They, along with all others who were serious with their covenant relation to Jehovah, probably saw their “prayer life” as weak at best.
“How do I, a sinner, talk to a Holy God?”
The Israelite could come to God as Our Father because of the covenant relationship established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord could teach the Israelite to come to the God of Heaven as Father since Israel was claimed by God as His son, even His firstborn (Exodus 4:22). The Israelite in right relationship could come to God as “Our Father”.
While the Lord taught His disciple to pray in this way, they would learn later that no man would come to the Father, but by Him (John 14:6). This was not specifically about prayer, but it certainly includes prayer, for if one is not in the right relationship to the Father, by coming to the Father by the Son, who is the way, the truth, and the life, he has no voice with the Father.
In our weakness, we come to the Lord as well, with the plea, “Lord, teach us to pray.” The scriptures are full of examples of how to pray, and as with other truths in scripture, we must learn by scripture which of these examples are our examples.
As the apostle Paul is Christ’s apostle to us in this dispensation of His grace, the Pauline epistles should be expected to be our guide in prayer as well. Paul praises and blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and he bows the knee to Him in this way (Ephesians 1:3; 3:14). The apostle teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to bring all of our requests to the Lord with the promise that the God of peace would grant peace of God to keep our hearts as we lay our requests on Him (Philippians 4:6–17).
And, as we pray, even though not even getting our requests right, for we still are weak through the flesh and “know not what we should pray for as we ought”, we have the Holy Spirit of God interceding with the Father on our behalf. Not a mere translation, but He prays for us. Christendom is replete with asking “saints” to pray for the one or ones praying, for, they say, “God will surely listen to them more than He will listen to us”. How sad not to know that the God of Heaven, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has the Comforter Himself praying for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered, while we groan in our flesh.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for the Holy Spirit’s intercession in our weakness. Amen.
If you are not saved, coming to the Father by the Lord Jesus Christ, you can be. Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead in victory. When you place your faith in Him and in His finished work of redemption for you, in Him and in Him alone, you will be saved. There is no time to wait, you do not know the time you have.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…”
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.