Encouragement in prayer

We return this morning to Dr Eryl Davies’s Devotionals from Chapter 8 of the Book of Romans, taken from the EMW Daily Devotionals.

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. 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.

Romans 8:26-27

I find it difficult to leave these verses as they are so relevant for us all. Quite often Christians acknowledge their difficulties in praying and this is an area where we need encouragement. I want to learn with you as I underline two major principles here.

First, remember that prayer for aChristian is conversation with the Lord whom we love. I recall an aunt and uncle in our extended family who often related the story of how they started courting. It was hilarious in some of its details – my uncle cared deeply as a teenager for my aunt, however she was not in the least interested in him. In fact, she disliked him intensely, ignoring him in company, and all requests to see her and go out with her were stubbornly refused. What intrigued me was how that relationship changed. My aunt was unsure what happened but referred to a period of weeks in her early twenties when her attitude towards him suddenly changed. ‘I began to like him’, recognising that he loved her. She was falling in love with him and wanted to be with him. It was not long before they married, and they enjoyed a happy relationship, and they loved talking to each other too!

That story pictures the gospel story. In Romans, Paul has shown that God loves sinners, though we are rebels rejecting all his advances to us; we deserve to be condemned but God in his marvellous love took the initiative, providing his Son to suffer the punishment of our sin and to reconcile us to himself. By the miracle of new birth, a remarkable change in our attitude towards God occurs and believers begin to know God and have an intimate, spiritual union with Christ. In prayer, therefore, we converse with our Lover and enjoy the Holy Spirit’s help in doing so. Is this how you view prayer? Don’t be a stranger to your Lover. Talk to Him often!

Second, while the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer yet we are to be actively involved rather than passive. Because my father worked on the railway, he was able to buy old wooden ‘sleepers’ which had been replaced on the railway track. They were heavy so my father needed my help as a boy in holding one end of the ‘sleeper’ as we carried it a short distance to our home. I was glad of my father’s strength for he carried the heaviest load yet I was needed and involved with him in the carrying.

Similarly Christians must be seeking the Lord, actively engaging in prayer even with their sighs, groans, and feelings which they cannot verbalise. Here the Holy Spirit’s ‘help’ in prayer can be massive. There are sighs, longings and hopes within us which at times are too deep to articulate. There may be fear on our part as we do not want to pray for anything outside the Lord’s will but we are confused as to what his will is for us. The Holy Spirit ‘helps’ us in our weaknesses for he knows what the Lord’s will is.

Are we too passive in prayer? Do we engage the Spirit’s help in our groans and sighs? Why not enjoy conversing with your loving Lord and sharing your desires and groans with Him? The Spirit will help you. That is a fact!

Dr Eryl Davies (Heath Church Cardiff)

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