Thursday, August 21, 2014

When weak prayers are strong

You pray and pray and pray, and then what? People encourage you to persevere. Knock and keep on knocking, they say. You wonder if they could possibly know how weak your prayers feel after all these years? But you keep praying, though the passion in your prayers feels a shadow of what it once was. You wonder if God is even listening as your prayers seem to have lost their potency, and you're no longer even sure what to pray.

And then God speaks: "...the Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Romans 8:26).

What a relief that God sent a Helper to come alongside us (John 14:16)! My prayers may be weak, but He can make them strong. However weak you may feel your prayers have become as they dribble off your lips after uncounted repetitions, be encouraged that the Spirit has been sent to lift our feeble prayers to greater heights, ensuring that they reach God's ears with groanings that echo our anguish and with a clarity that contradicts our confusion.

That word "helps" is a big word with even bigger implications. The Greek word originally used is sunantilambano, and literally "speaks of the action of a person coming to another's aid by taking hold over against that person, of the load he is carrying. The person helping does not take the entire load, but helps the person in his endeavor" (source, vol. 1). 

In fact, I would dare to suggest that such Spirit-assisted prayers are potentially more effective than the lofty prayers of some who may be so confident that they utter their prayers without relying on the Spirit for His help. That is why God has no difficulty hearing what we consider "weak" prayers. Because by the time they reach His ears through His Spirit's intercession, there is nothing weak about them!

© 2014 by Ken Peters

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