Don't Know How To Pray?

 

I heard it again just the other day and I can't count the times I've heard it before: "I don't know how to pray." 

I really can't say it surprises me. Prayer is the Christian's greatest weakness. And yet nothing is more important to the Christian. After all, how can we expect to 'walk' with God and do His will, if we cannot 'talk' with Him? 

Surely this is the one area of our Christian lives that the Enemy targets most often. He wants to weaken our prayers or, better yet, to silence them altogether. The Devil is greatly irritated by the fact that you and I are "on speaking terms" with God, since he himself is not. He will stop at nothing to cut that off. 

But are you ready for the good news about this greatest weakness of ours? Someone incredibly powerful is helping us overcome it. That's what we read in Romans 8: 

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with groanings too deep for words."  Rom 8: 26-27

Isn't it refreshing to see the Bible just acknowledge that our stammering, tongue-tied prayers are, apparently, not the exception but the norm!  

When it comes to the business of prayer, we so often get it all wrong. 

We pray with wrong motives. "You do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives", says James to his flock. James 4:3

We ask for the wrong things. "You do not know what you're asking", Jesus corrected two of his disciples once. Mt: 20:21

And then to make things even worse, we just give up on prayer altogether. "You do not have because you do not ask," James scolds us. James 4:2 

Listen, if any of this describes your prayer life,   it's not my job to scold you on it; too often it describes my life too. In fact, I can tell you this: if that describes your prayer life, you're in an awfully good company! 

Remember that passage in Deuteronomy, when Moses prayed and asked for the wrong thing? "Lord, let me go over and see the good land." And God very sternly said, "Don't ever ask that again." Dt 3: 23-26

Paul asked three times for something that was never God's will. 2 Cor 12: 8-9

At one point, Paul was unable to decide if he should pray to live or pray to die: "which should I choose? I do not know."  Phil 1: 22-24

Job was so distressed he just quit praying for a week. Job 2: 13.

And are you ready for the clincher? Even Jesus Himself asked for something that wasn't God's will! I say this with the utmost reverence, He did it in the brokenness of our Atonement, but He did cry out: "Lord, take this cup from me."  Which God would not do!  Lk 22: 42

The truth of it is that life, with all its perplexities, alarms and heartaches, often makes prayer a difficult thing. But—praise God!—what a mighty rescuing Spirit we have, who "intercedes" on our behalf. He intercedes! The Greek word literally means "to take over the task". Isn't that beautiful? "Move over, I've got this..." And then, to the Lord: "What she really means, Dear Father, is this...."  

How strange and mysterious this passage: "With groans that words cannot express," the Spirit of God literally translates your prayer; helps it all make sense! And the end result is glory, with God the Father loving your prayers, no matter how crude and simple and obtuse they might be! He turns each stammering, stuttering phrase into one beautiful petition before the Lord God! Don't you love it! 

I will never forget that Christmas season when both James and David played in the school orchestra. It was their very first time in an orchestra and both of them were pretty green. James had been sputtering into a trumpet for less than a year or so and Dave had only been sawing his trombone for a few months. In fact, by the sound of the music, it was pretty obvious that the entire orchestra was pretty "green"!

During the performance of the very first song, eager smiles began to fade on the faces of Moms and Dads in the crowd. Foreheads furroughed! Some folks cocked their heads, desperately trying to figure out just what on earth they were hearing! The notes were filling the air all right—oh, man! were they filling the air!—but what was it? For the longest time, no one could tell. 

And then, all of a sudden, one Mom jumped up, with the biggest smile and the proudest look on her face, and announced to us all: 

"It's Jingle Bells!"  

Oh yes, it was! How could we all have been so dull and uncultured? By the fifth bar, we all could hear it! It was Jingle Bells, praise God! 

And the entire auditorium was just bursting with pride! 

Listen dear ones. That is what the Spirit of God does for you! God loves your prayers, every one of them, as long as they come from the heart.  He doesn't care if they're perfect pitch! He doesn't care if they're lofty, or eloquent or oratorical. In fact, He seems to rather dislike that kind. He kind of prefers the "groaning" kind. 

And He loves your prayers...

...because they come from you! 

So get busy dear ones. Put the Spirit to work! He's been waiting in the wings to get started all this time! Come join us on Wednesdays as we do this holy thing together as a church! You will not regret it!  

See you Sunday!                           RAS 

 

When Things Fall Apart
Dig Deeper!