12th February 2017
God’s Spirit helps in prayer
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes[a] with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God,[b] who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit[c] intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.[d]
Paul writes that we don't know how to pray as we ought. Is Paul saying that we find it difficult to pray? Is he saying that we say the wrong things to God in prayer? Is he saying that when we pray we pray incorrectly?
I know that there are times when I find it a bit difficult to pray, difficult to find the words that I would like to say. I guess there are times when we all find prayer difficult. And this can be for a number of reasons. Even Jesus' disciples struggled with prayer, or at least they felt it was a struggle. So they asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
Prayer, is talking and listening to God. Just as we talk and listen to each other in a close human relationship. In prayer we can use words to convey love, and to talk about things closest to our heart, and we can ask for help. To talk about things closest to our heart means that we need to know the one we are speaking with... and to feel comfortable with whom we are speaking.
Within the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, he encouraged them to begin to develop a close relationship with God. Yet Paul says the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought. The Spirit intercedes so that the truth of what is on our heart is raised up to God from our heart to God’s heart.
The problem of course is that while our heart longs to love God, we are sometimes conflicted with the things of the world. Conflicted with injustice, with hatred, with prejudice and more.... These are things that frustrate and cloud our judgement from sometimes knowing how to pray. Yet, what prayer does is allow us to open a pathway through those conflicts, through which God’s light can shine to lighten the path before us.
Prayer can be difficult at times. If it were not difficult, the Spirit would not have to intercede for us and God would not have to search the intentions of our heart.
Revd. Mark Robinson