Submitted by: Pastor David Klappenbach, First Lutheran Church, Rock Port, Mo.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
You wake up in the middle of the night. You have many concerns and worries going through your mind. You lay awake in the darkness and can’t go back to sleep. You try to pray. But it seems you can’t come up with any words. You don’t know what to say. You do not know how to pray as you ought.
You are with a very close friend who has been going through all kinds of difficulties in life. She has shared these concerns and struggles and you want to be supportive. Then a thought comes to you, “let us pray together about this.” But then you don’t seem to have the words. You are quiet for a minute or so. Then your friend asks, “Aren’t you going to say something?” You find out that you cannot pray as you ought.
You are part of a large gathering. Perhaps it is a fellowship event at your church. The pastor asks you to offer the opening prayer. You freeze. All kinds of questions and thoughts immediately rush through your mind. What do I say? What words do I use? I have never prayed in public. Will the words be the right words? I can’t pray like the pastor. What will the others think of me? I don’t want to embarrass myself. You cannot pray as you ought.
If this has happened, you are not alone. It seems that St. Paul had some of the same experiences when it came to prayer. He did not always have the right words when prayer was called for. The good news is, we have a God who loves us and knows our thoughts, our desires and the intentions of our hearts. That may scare you if you think about it. But it also means we do not need to hide anything from God. You can be honest and confess your weakness before the Lord. When prayer is called for and you begin to open your mouth to pray and nothing comes out, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. The Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. The Spirit takes our jumbled thoughts and concerns and orders them and in some mysterious way makes them right before our Father in heaven.
If you find it difficult to pray don’t get discouraged. Each new day presents a new opportunity to begin anew. Be intentional about setting aside some time each day for conversation with God. That is what prayer is in its simplest form, conversation with God. The morning works best for me before I begin my daily duty. If I put prayer time off, it seems I will never get to pray because I get too busy. When entering into prayer, pray what is on your heart and mind. Give thanks for all the blessings you have received from the Lord, confess your sin and weakness, and bring the concerns of others to God.
In entering into prayer each day the disciple will have their relationship with Christ growing and deepening. The disciple will become more convicted about the truth of the gospel of God’s love shown in Jesus Christ. The disciple will learn to become more obedient to God’s will for their life. The disciple will find more peace in their life. And just maybe, you will find yourself more confident to pray when it is called for in circumstances in which you encounter. Yes, there may be those times when you may feel weak and the words are not there or come out the way you would like. Fear not. For the Spirit helps us in our weakness. When we “do not know how to pray as we ought; the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”