Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:26-39
I believe in prayer. In fact if someone speaks to me about prayer, I want to say, “Let’s not just talk about praying. Let’s pray!” But, alas, I’m not really good at praying. I run out of words. I lose track of the needs. I get lost in the details. That’s one reason I love the prayers of John Baillie. He says things I would not think of myself, and I love to use his prayers. Here’s an excerpt from one that I find especially edifying…
I pray also—
for all who will today be faced by any great decision:
for all who will today be engaged in settling affairs of great importance in the lives of men and nations:
for all who are molding public opinion in our time:
for all who write what other people read:
for all who are holding aloft the lamp of truth in a world of ignorance and sin:
for all whose hands are worn with too much toil, and for the unemployed whose hands today fall idle:
for those who have nowhere to lay their head.
– John Baillie, Diary of Private Prayer, Twenty-Eighth Day Morning
@ 1977 by Ian Fowler Baillie
Revised by David Bahn, 2003, 2012
Better than Baillie, however, is the Holy Spirit. For he knows both the heart and mind of God as well as our needs. He also has a heart for us, desiring to bring us to God, to bring us to faith, to bring us to the full experience of God’s love and salvation. The Holy Spirit enriches our lives by turning our hearts to God and inclining our hearts to pray in the first place.
But there are times when the challenges we face are too overwhelming. The nuances of the decisions, the knowledge necessary, is beyond our grasp. The courage even to voice what is needed is so lacking. We need the Holy Spirit to intercede for us! And he does.
As he does so, we can thank God that he is working for us, in us, through us, (and sometime in spite of us). But he is always working for our good. He is always yearning to shape our hearts with his love and grace.
Sometimes we may need to be brought up sharply – the proverbial Come to Jesus moments may need to occur. But in the end his kindness leads us to repentance. And God’s kindness is shown in his will and his grace, and by the Holy Spirit’s work in us and prayers for us.