On Being a Prayer Dummy - Lauren Sparks

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“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 through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”  Romans 8:26-27 NIV

The preacher at my church dissected these verses at church Sunday morning.  In the 32 years I have been walking, sometimes limping, with the Lord, I have read this passage of the Bible many times.  It strikes me fresh this week, though, as the living Word of God often does.  Probably because I have no EARTHLY idea how to pray for a situation in my life right now.  I know I have written here about everything from special education to boob tatoos, but today I must remain vague because this issue involves others.  Suffice it to say, the situation is hard.  And I’m uncertain if I should pray for the situation to continue but the hearts and environment to change, OR if I should pray for the current state of things to end and new things begin!   As my high school basketball coach used to say, “Was that all clear as mud?”  I feel like I’m vaguebooking here, but I promise I’m getting to a point.

I have always viewed the Romans 8 teachings through the lens of intense tragedy and suffering.  I guess it’s the “wordless groans” part.  Seems like what comes out when I am sobbing uncontrollably.  Real weeping and gnashing of teeth stuff.  My interpretation until just this week – when God’s people are so distraught that they can’t form words to pray, the Holy Spirit swoops in to save the day.  Um, I’m embarrassed to say that’s not even close.  The scripture says it’s the Holy Spirit using the wordless groans.  And it doesn’t say this happens when we CAN’T pray, but when we don’t know what to pray.  Like me.  Right now.

I am stunned.  If you are thinking, “Well, duh.  All you have to do is read,”  hang with me a little longer.  The next part of the passage says the Spirit intercedes “in accordance with the will of God.”  Hmmm.  New revelations!  When I have words, but they are the wrong words, the Spirit helps then too!  When my human nature gets in the way and desires what’s not in line with God’s best in any given situation, the Holy Spirit helps align my feelings and desires with God’s will.  That is often.  And that is huge!

My wheels are really spinning now.  Not knowing how to pray reminds me how often I come before my Heavenly Father with a “set” agenda.  I think I know exactly what needs to happen to fix me…or her…or that circumstance.  And that’s what I ask for.  Man, that’s a whole lot of arrogance coming from someone who can’t even decide if she’s on a diet from one day to the next.  In some areas of my life, I approach prayer as some kind of puppet master pulling strings in my quiet time.  It’s so preposterous that I can’t believe I haven’t seen it – and repented of it sooner.

I’m so very thankful that I serve a God who knows so much better than my feeble, limited mind.  And that when I’m at a loss, or when I’m just wrong, His Holy Spirit steps up to the plate.  What a load off.

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