Spirit of Prayer
* photo: a bridge in Yanamono II, Peru ~ from my mission trip August 2010
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” ~Romans 8: 25-26
“If the problems of prayer have become so dark and heavy to you that the words of prayer freeze on your lips, then pray in your distress for the Spirit of prayer. He will solve the deepest mysteries of prayer by revealing to you that, the more helpless you are, the better you are fitted to pray…” ~O. Hallesby, Prayer.
If like me, you are searching for answers in prayer, then rest assured, God has not turned a deaf ear upon you. He has not turned away from you nor is He ignoring you. The desperate cry that can form no words is heard by the very ear of God, and all of our tears that are shed are kept by God.
One of the most difficult situations is that of a long-term illness. People who have experienced cancer, diabetes, heart problems, or had a family member that has experienced this know that the prayers are unceasing. Tears drip from our eyes. The words pour like water from babbling brooks.
And then, the words can quickly dry up. How many times shall I ask you Lord? Shall I continue repeating these same words. I feel as though I am a begging child. “Please….please….please do this thing for me.” And while I thought my faith would have grown beyond trying to bargain, it is hard to resist the temptation to ask God to do this one thing and try to do something for Him. I will be good. I will go to church every Sunday. I will give away all of my money. I will serve in the community. I will spend more time with my family. But, does God want our bribes?
I say them in an empty way knowing that I cannot bribe God. And then, I start to question, well havent’ I been good enough? Aren’t I better than so and so? Aren’t I one of your beloved children? Won’t you do this? Why won’t you do this?
I pleaded for my mom’s life. I pleaded that she would be miraculously healed. I prayed that the diabetes that had affected her since age 16 would disappear. Oh, well it did with a transplant in April 2003. I prayed that no more of her fingers would have to be taken. And, it was her hand, and then her foot and then another.
I pleaded that He would allow her to be healthy and to see my wedding day and even, by His grace, my first-born child. I am single and childless. But, somewhere in my house, I have a card from my mom that reads “I am proud of you for loving ‘your kids’” - meaning the Compassion kids that I sponsor. In a way, she saw my love for “my” children even though I am still childless.
Bargaining does not work. Yet, God’s mercy prevails. He seems to know and understand how to answer a prayer while we are still unaware of the answer. And later, looking back on it, there were many answers.
I like to think that God the Father is silent at the times when we need to cry out, to be angry, to bargain, to rationalize and to hope for something better than what is presently concerned. He allows us to use the voice that we have been given to express our deepest need.
And in that hour when we have no words left to say, the Spirit intercedes.