Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, April 6, 2016
“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. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26–28, ESV).
Praying is one of the simplest things to do. It’s having a conversation with God. It’s telling God what you like, dislike, hope for, love about Him, desire for others, etc. It’s asking how He’d like us to act or react in certain situations. It’s opening our hearts to God without hesitation or airs. It’s asking for forgiveness, cleansing, and the power to live right. It’s giving thanks for what God’s doing in our lives. It’s giving praise for who God is. It’s waiting patiently and without distraction for God’s answers. Talking and listening are basic human functions. We have been doing it most of our lives; some of us better than others, but we do it nonetheless.
Yet, even with all its simplicity, it is also filled with power and intrigue. We are encountering the God of the universe, after all. What should be the manner of our praying? What should be our posture and attitude during prayer? How often should we pray? How should we address the King when we pray? How much time should we invest in prayer? With all of these questions come perhaps the simplest, for what should we pray?
While prayer is a simple enough concept, there are supernatural elements that require supernatural interventions. Notice what Jeremiah says about our thought lives: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Even though we are obviously aware of what we are thinking, our perceptions about and perspectives on what we think are skewed. Although we consciously may have certain intentions, there are subconscious elements we do not fully understand. And to top it all off, we are actually sinful! This is not good.
This is where divine cooperation comes in. The Bible says that our God welcomes us to come boldly into His presence. And when we get there, since we have no idea what to say that gets supernatural results (although we can flatter ourselves into thinking otherwise), the Holy Spirit who knows the mind of the Father turns up our prayers to be heard in heavenly language. The Spirit translates our feeble attempts at prayer into sweet melodies of prayers that become irresistible to the Father’s ears. And to top it all off, the Spirit is actually holy! This is good.
The Bible further says that all things work together for those who are surrendered to God according to His will. While this could certainly be applied to all areas of our lives, notice that this statement comes in direct context of the Spirit’s intercession. All of our thoughts, acts, and feelings, when submitted to God in truehearted prayer are mediated and translated by the Spirit to be answered in the best possible way. All of the circumstances surrounding our needs, whether good or bad, are all run through God’s heavenly filtration system, and worked out for our good. I am so happy the Spirit does not leave us to our own devices when it comes to prayer. The Father loves us. The Son gave His life for us. The Spirit translates our prayers. What more could we want? It is an impressive model of cooperation. And I am so thankful it is.