The third passage of Scripture which confirmed for me this truth that prayer starts with God is Romans 8:26-30.
This particular passage affirms the inspiration for praying comes from Him.
Again, the Spirit of the Lord, the present Christ, is the initiator of the desire, content, and assurance of prayer.
How do we ask for the Holy Spirit?
A story is told of a soldier who was doing guard duty on the front line in WWI.
After being relieved of duty, as a Christian, he wanted to pray, to thank God for protecting him, and to ask for His continued protection.
The enemy lines were very close, and he couldn’t go far.
So, he just crawled a little way away from where he had been standing guard, knelt and began to pray aloud. The soldier who replaced him heard his voice and thought he was speaking to someone in the enemy lines. So, he reported him.
The officer in charge said, “you have been accused of revealing secrets to the enemy. How do you respond?”
• The soldier said, “It’s not true. I wasn’t doing that”
• The officer replied, “Then what were you doing when you were out there facing the enemy and talking?”
• He said, “I was praying”
• “You were praying out loud?”
• “Yes, I was the young soldier responded”
• The officer said, “Show me. Pray right now”
• So, the young man knelt and prayed
• And when he finished the officer dismissed the charges
• “Because,” he said, “nobody can pray like that unless he has been practicing”
How do we pray when we don’t know what to say?
In these verses,
Paul tells the followers of Jesus in Rome that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, even to the point of articulating to God what we can’t put into words!
Not only that, but when we point our hearts and requests and thanksgivings to God, the Holy Spirit cleans up our prayers and conforms them to the will of God!
Even in asking for the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives, he goes to work for us in and through our prayers!
Note how Paul developed the same sublime theme.
Romans 8:26-30 Amplified Bible
Our Victory in Christ
26 In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of [a]God’s people in accordance with God’s will.
28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers. 30 And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified [declared free of the guilt of sin]; and those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity].
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
The full impact of this is realized by starting at the end.
We are called and appointed to belong to the Lord.
His desire is for all things in our lives to work together to accomplish the plan He has for each of us.
That plan is His will for us.
The word thele’ma is used in Greek for “will” in this passage. It means desire.
The Lord has a desire for all of us, a purpose for us to accomplish.
But He does not leave us, after we are born again, with no training or help in accomplishing this purpose of being conformed into His own image.
He invades our subconscious with preconscious longings and urgings which are manifested in the conscious desire to pray, seeking His desires for us.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one.
The Spirit is the reigning glorified Christ with us.
This is what Paul made undeniably clear to the Galatians.
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
The Spirit of the Son comes to us in our weaknesses.
He calls us to prayer and then gives us the “groanings which cannot be uttered.”
What does this mean?
My understanding is that the groanings are the preconscious longings which He eventually articulates through us in helping us to put into words what He wants us to pray.
It is not that the intercession is done for us, for that would deny the cooperation with the Lord for which we were created.
In my Christian life, I have found that prayer is a difficult discipline.
I concur with others that praying moves through different seasons.
• My Posture may change
• My Prayers may change
But whatever season I am currently facing, my specific prayers are often marked by experiences.
• If I am Doubting – I pray for Faith
• If I’m Hurting – I pray for Healing
• If I’m Confused – I pray for Understanding
• If I’m Worried – I pray for Calmness
• If I’m Restless – I pray for Peace
• If I’m Afraid – I pray for Comfort
• If I lack Wisdom – I ask God to give me Discernment
If this is true for you, we are together in the difficult discipline of prayer, for I am no saint when it comes to the fervency of my “disciplined” prayer life.
• Prayer is a lagging discipline that needs constant shoring up
• Prayer is a spiritual discipline that needs cultivation
• The ground needs to be turned over
• Seeds of prayer need to be planted and watered
• We wait like the farmer, trusting the seed will sprout and multiply its blessing
Prayer takes effort and constant fine-tuning.
• We learn to pray
• We learn what not to say.
At first the invasion of the Spirit produces the longing to pray.
Then when we feel the need to pray, but still don’t know how or what to pray, He provides that also.
Because He knows our hearts and is the heart of the Lord, He brings them into congruity. His purpose is to bring our desires into alignment with His desires so we can ask for that which will be part of all things working together for good.
Recently I had a misunderstanding with a cherished friend which resulted in a broken relationship.
The startling thing was that for a time I didn’t want to find a reconciliation.
I chalked it up to my own definition of “irreconcilable differences” which had precluded the possibility of forgiveness and a new beginning.
I was deeply hurt and angry.
My “best Christian Response” my “great plan” was to forget the whole mess.
Some weeks later, a growing and maturing uneasiness began to grow in me.
I couldn’t shake the man out of my mind.
That was followed by a mysterious desire to pray about him.
When I responded to the inner urgings to pray, I noticed a subtle difference in my attitude.
As I prayed, I was given new empathy for what might have caused the man’s behavior during our painfully short intense interaction.
I was given a completely different picture of the needs inside him; and then I asked for a way to communicate acceptance and forgiveness.
As I lingered in prayer, a strategy was unfolded for what I needed to do and speak. I had the deep conviction that the plan came from the Lord.
Therefore, when I asked God for His help to accomplish His will in the matter, I could ask with confidence and boldness knowing God already had the answer.
The inner disquiet, like an inaudible wordless groaning, turned into clarity and was articulated in a request for the quiet strength and courage to do what the Lord had promised He would do in our relationship through me if I were willing.
A brand new, ready will worked with my imagination to form the “God-Gifted” picture of how it would be accomplished when the God-Moment had arrived.
And that’s exactly the way it turned out. I learned that after our exchange, he too began to pray. The Lord was initiator and inspiration from start to finish.
Oftentimes when we find it hard to pray – we need to just get started.
• Just start talking to the Lord
• Just start Praying
• Don’t worry about the Words
• Don’t worry about your Posture
• Don’t worry about Sounding Good
• Just start Praying
It’s difficult to pray because humbling ourselves, getting over ourselves, and coming to the end of our stubborn and sinful selves is hard.
• When we pray, we die to self, and death hurts.
• That’s why our flesh fights so hard against prayer
Moreover, it’s hard to pray because our focus is too often on praying itself and not upon God. We learn about prayer not so that we might know a lot of facts about prayer, but so that we might pray with our sole focus is 100% on God.
• By His Sovereign Grace, we know Him
• We know He is there
• We know He not only Hears but Listens
• We know He is not silent
• We know He always answers our prayers and always acts in accord with His perfect will for our ultimate good and for His glory.
When we recognize God’s sovereignty in prayer, we are also reminded of His Love – Grace – Holiness – Righteousness, and we are thereby confronted with the harsh reality of our own wretched sin in the light of His Glory and Grace.
Prayer is not a preparation for work, it is work.
• Prayer is not a preparation for the Battle – Prayer is the Battle
• Prayer is two-fold
– DEFINITE ASKING and DEFINITE WAITING TO RECEIVE ~ Oswald Chambers
• Prayer is Emotionally Consuming
• Prayer is Physically Consuming – Fatigue
When we find it difficult to pray – satan wants to keep us from prayer and its power
• No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil
• Not that he practices it, but he suffers from it
Satan uses “Weapons of Mass Distraction” –
• Phone Calls
• Text Messages
• Social Media Platforms
• Our Jobs
• Our Busyness
When we find it difficult to pray — our flesh is weak.
We have difficulty suppressing physical tiredness and challenges.
Perhaps there are days when our mind grows tired.
Or we are physically exhausted from work – from our children – and possibly even from weakness due to an illness. I find that physical weakness is often connected to spiritual weakness and fatigue (though not always connected).
• When the body is weak, our minds can think wrong thoughts about God, and our hearts can begin to believe these thoughts
• Prayer time can become ineffective because our minds are distracted and wander to different themes.
Life always seems to find a way to gather around us when we are ill-prepared. Before we know it, acknowledge it, pray through it and confess it – CHAOS!
Then we are in that place once again where we do not know what to do or are too busy trying to control and manage things under our own strength – to do.
With no rhyme or reason, the eternal cycle of our independence versus “God-Dependence” spins wildly – from earth to the far depths of the universe again.
Praise God for His Word –
Psalm 19:1-3 Complete Jewish Bible
19 (0) For the leader. A psalm of David:
2 (1) The heavens declare the glory of God,
the dome of the sky speaks the work of his hands.
3 (2) Every day it utters speech,
every night it reveals knowledge.
Praise God for the revelation of His Word, the ultimate revelation of Truth!
Because, before I knew it,
The same process occurred in a tough decision I had to make recently.
I thought I knew what the Lord wanted and did not pray a lot about it.
When the decision was made, I had no peace.
There was a jangling grating static in my spirit. It lasted for several days. When sleep was interrupted by the disturbance, I knew something was very wrong.
I asked the Lord to be very clear. I asked Him how to pray.
A specific request was given me to make.
If the disturbance was from Him, I asked that it continue and grow.
If the decision I had made was right and the disquiet was simply my own fear of implementing it, I was led to ask that the disturbance be taken away.
You guessed it: the impossibly irritating static grew to unbearably high decibels.
That led me to confess, “Lord, now I know I’m on the wrong track. Show me what you want me to do.”
After hours of quiet listening, I reversed the hastily made decision.
As I prayed, a new direction formed in my mind, pictured by my imagination.
When I decided to follow the new direction, the jangling static inside subsided.
An inner calm and confidence grew in its place.
John 14:23-27 Complete Jewish Bible
23 Yeshua answered him, “If someone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Someone who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words — and the word you are hearing is not my own but that of the Father who sent me.
25 “I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Ruach HaKodesh, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything; that is, he will remind you of everything I have said to you.
27 “What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives. Don’t let yourselves be upset or frightened.
Then with holy boldness, I asked for THE sure and certain revelation of what the Holy Spirit had formed in my mind.
When I asked, I knew that I was assured of the answer.
Subsequently, the decision was worked out by the Spirit’s power exactly as He detailed it in prayer.
Again, He had been the source of the disturbance, the desire to review the previous decision, the architect of the new plan, the communicator of the different direction, instigator of a boldness to ask for what He had imparted.
Our desire to pray is the result of His call to prayer. He has something to say.
Our responsibility is to listen to what He wants to give us for our problems and potentials.
He will make it clear.
Then we can say with courage, confidence and boldness born of the Holy Spirit:
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him,
It was not I that found, O Savior true,
No, I was found of Thee. (Author Anonymous)
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Precious God, Almighty Father, my words cannot express the depth of my appreciation for your gift of the Holy Spirit. Even when I don’t know how to pray or what to say, I know the Spirit is there with me, sharing my heart with you in ways both, far beyond my comprehension, pleasing to you! Thank you for this grace and the gift that makes it possible. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.