Cornerstone Prayer Time Meditations

True Prayer

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts 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 (ESV)

In prayer, it is not only important how we pray, but what we pray for. We’re told in verse 26 that we do not know what to pray for as we ought. So, we’ve seen that we are not to pray with arrogance; that we are to come humbly, yet boldly. Now, let us see what we’re to pray, especially when we don’t know for what we’re to pray.

Sometimes we think we pray well. This is almost dangerous, for we will never master the art of prayer. Read of those masters of prayer from the past and you’ll see this is true. Even they, like George Mueller, believed they had so much to learn of prayer.

There is also evidence in Scripture of this. Moses, when the Israelites were about to enter into Canaan, did not know what to pray. Elijah, didn’t know what he was parying for when he prayed, “O Lord, take my life.” The disciples didn’t either, when they asked for fire from heaven to come down and consume a village. The apostle Paul, even in asking three times for a thorn to be removed, didn’t know to pray as he ought. We’re in good company when we recognize this.

It’s also a good thing that some prayers are answered in the negative. God does not grant all we request of Him. Like the country song says, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Just look at Israel: God gave them what they asked for – a king; and not just a king, Saul. Now God told them He would give this to them, but they really didn’t know what they were asking for when they made this request.

So, how shall we pray? And what shall we pray for? We should ask for God’s grace, for His will to be done. Along with these, we should pray for temporal and eternal matters.

Scripture tells us that two intercessors are needed when we pray, and for this, we should give thanks. First, we need a pleading Christ. it is only for His sa that God the Father hears us. Second, we need a purifying intercessor through whom our prayers are cleansed – the Holy Spirit. Christ prays for us, His people. The Spirit prayer within His people: He helps us in our weakness.

In our own strength, we cannot offer up any prayer that will be acceptable to the Father. We’re too feeble, too powerless, too full of sin and sinful motives, too full of foolishness, ignorance, shortsightedness to offer up a sweet-smelling sacrifice of prayer to the Father. We need a helper – the Spirit who intercedes for us.

When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my dad still farmed. He had an old John Deere Model A. One day, he took me with him to head out to the far end of the pasture. When I asked if he would let me drive the tractor, he didn’t just jump off the tractor, look at me as I rolled away and say, “Best to you! Do your best!” No, he kept me on his lap, placed my hands on the steering wheel, throttled the tractor down and “let me drive.” Now, if I started to drift off the path, he didn’t knock me off the tractor to the ground and shout, “Foolish boy. Stay away and let me do this for you.” No, once again, if I was going astray of the path, he would simply reach his strong arms around my small, child’s body, place his hands upon mine on the wheel and “help” me straighten the tractor out. I think this illustrates what the Spirit does when we dont’ know what to pray for as we ought. He comes alongside us, places His mind in the Father’s and utters those groanings that only He knows to utter.

There are times when we fail in our prayers. This is due to sin. We’re still filled with selfishness, pride, greed, etc. But the Spirit doesn’t thrust us aside; He comes alongside, stoops to our needs and helps us in our weakness.

What are these groanings? I think they’re our deepest needs which are too difficult to express. We we find we can’t explain ourselves to God adequately, He prays in this way. When we can’t find the right words to pray, He’s right there, praying within us and for us. The Spirit, who is one with the Living Word, has all the words we need.

The more childlike we are in this, the better. It is when we find ourselves praying like a child – small, weak, simple, stammering with our words – this is when the Spirit is most strong to help us. He puts our concerns and needs before the Father on our behalf. And our prayers are truest when the Spirit is praying them for us.

Intercession, helping us in our weakness – this is what the Spirit is so good at. At times, our hearts are cold and distant, even though we keep on trying to pray. Our heart cries out to God, even about our praylessness. And the Spirit is at work, the new life within us still cries out, through the Spirit. It is htis new life, the Spirit of God, groaning out loud for us.

At times, the Spirit may pray “against us”, as it were. We pray, with short-sightedness, without full knowledge. Paul, in praying for the thorn to be removed, is an example of this. So, the Spirit intercedes “against” us, for He knows the will of God for us and prays that perfectly. At times, we’ll pray for things we think we need and yet the Spirit, who knows the mind of God, realizes we will be better without it. So He prays: “Father, don’t give this to her. Keep that from him. You know perfectly that this is out of selfish motive or only for his own glory, not Yours.”

This is not to aggravate us. It is for our well-being, for our best interest. The Spirit is preparing us for eternity and for our eternal joy in Christ Jesus. If we would rest in this truth, then we will be blessed indeed.

“He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit.” He who searches hearts… this would be God the Father. He knows us, inside and out. And the Spirit dwelling within us, is seen and known by God the Father. God’s will is being prayed within us, even when we don’t realize it. This means our prayers are being purified in order that God would be pleased.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. When we recognize our failures and our weaknesses, we’re never in a position to pray more truly. The Spirit works mightily in us during these times. And the more the Spirit works, the more we learn to pray according to the will of God. The more we learn to pray according to the will fo God, the more trust, the more peace and the more instruction we’ll have.

The Spirit also works in our hearts and in our prayers to sanctify us. He makes us and our prayers more holy, which is God-pleasing. More and more we’ll find ourselves cut off from self. More and more we’ll find ourselves turned toward heaven. More and more we’ll be made into the image of Christ. We seldom abide in Him better than when we are in prayer.

Give thanks that the Spirit prays against our flesh. Once, Brother Lawrence prayed, “O Lord, this is what you may expect of me if you leave me to myself.” Praise be to God, we are born of the Spirit. Thanks be to God that we laern to will what He wills. These will be true prayers and they will be heard.

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