“We do not know how to pray as we should,” (Rom 8:26, NASB). I often come back to this passage as it delivers the sobering reality of my prayer life. Truthfully, I struggle immensely with my prayer life as I continuously find myself at a loss for words or feeling as if my prayers are inadequate. What has continued to bring me back to the passage is the sentence preceding the one quoted above, which states, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness,” (Rom 8:26, NASB). The rest of this text is equally as stunning as it is through our weakness, and our inability to pray that, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God,” (Rom 8:26-27, NASB). I hope that we understand the reality of this text because it is absolutely marvelous that in spite of all of our struggles to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes God’s will for us through prayers of groans that are too deep for words.
Paul’s words here were written specifically in the context of suffering (Rom 8:18, NASB), and there is another passage that helps further our understanding of this text. 2 Corinthians 12 is a piece of Scripture where Paul details himself being caught up into heaven and hearing words that “man is not permitted to speak” (2 Cor 12:2-4, NASB). It is here that Paul receives the infamous thorn in the flesh to keep him from exalting himself, but Paul implores the Lord three times for the thorn to leave him (2 Cor 12:7-8, NASB). As a response, God essentially says no to relieving Paul of this, but instead says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9, NASB). Now, I want us to stop and reflect on this passage considering what was stated in Romans 8, as it reveals Paul himself did not always know how to pray as he should as well. For Paul, imploring God to remove the thorn in his flesh seemed like correct answer, yet it clearly was not as God had something else in mind. Now I do not believe this means that we are neglected from ever asking God for things in fear that we might get it wrong because we are clearly commanded to ask things of God (Matt 7:7-12, NASB), but it is in times of suffering when we might find ourselves at a loss for words, especially when praying to God.
We are currently living in a time of deep suffering, and I will be honest by confessing that I have struggled in know how to pray regarding all the current events. It is after reading these passages that I realized how weak I truly am, yet God still works through my weakness, and so I concur with Paul’s words as he says, “therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me,” (2 Cor 12:9, NASB). Going back to Romans 8:26, it states that the Holy Spirit helps our weakness and thus intercedes on our behalf (NASB).
The practical application that I have taken away from these passages can be summed up in three points:
1. In times of suffering and when I am at a loss for words, I will admit before God, my weakness and inability to know how to pray in that moment.
2. I will then pray specifically for the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf.
3. Lastly, I will conclude by sitting in silence and basking in the comfort of knowing he will provide his Holy Spirit to help me in my weakness.
Worship Pastor of Central Baptist Church