According to the Scriptures, prayer makes the short list of difficult things to do for the Christian. Paul says in Rom 8:26, “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.” Here Paul puts prayer in the category of weakness. While we know we should probably pray more often, my guess is that most of us don’t ordinarily think of prayer as something that is intrinsically hard. Often when it comes to prayer we put the blame on ourselves, I can’t focus, or I can’t find the right words. Surely these things are true, but they are not at the heart of what Paul says our problem is.
What Paul makes clear is the reason prayer is so hard is that we don’t even know what to pray for! And this is so true. I look at my kids and I want to pray “good” things into their lives. But I don’t know what “good” is. Maybe in God’s economy they need to experience hardship. I pray for my single friends to find spouses, but is that the “good” God has in store? Does anyone know what to pray for our world, our president? I don’t know?
But the good news here is that though we do not know what we ought to pray for, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Our Counselor takes the heart of what we desire for our kids, our friends, our world and translates our hearts to the heart of our Father. This is yet another plank that Paul is laying in this chapter that proclaims we are “more than conquerors through him who loves us.”
So cheer up! We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit does!