“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 think this has been one of my favorite weeks about prayer so far. It is great to learn what prayer is, how to pray, what to pray for, and the different types of prayer, but it is all meaningless if God does not hear us. 

There have been many times in my life when I felt like my prayers never reached the ears of God. I know that is a false perception on my part, but it is also an indication of a weak heart and a poor understanding of God. If you have had doubts about whether or not God hears your prayers, I hope this week has been an encouragement to you.

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to be our helper (John 14:26), and boy do we need it. He nudges our conscience when we are living in discord with the Word of God (John 16:8). He comforts us in our pain (Acts 9:31), and teaches us in our ignorance (John 14:26), and He also helps us in our prayer life.

If you grew up in the church you probably heard the phrase “the Spirit intercedes for us.” It sounds great, but what does it mean?

Prayer is a constant reminder to us that we are totally and deeply dependent on God for everything. We are filled with weakness and this weakness is often seen in our prayer life. We are easily distracted, letting our schedules and worries cloud our times of prayer. We get antsy and rush through prayer because our to-do list is calling and, quite frankly, getting started on laundry, sleeping in, running errands, or taking that shower before the baby wakes up are more important to us than spending time talking to God or reading His Word.

Sometimes we don’t know how to express what we are feeling because our hearts are cold or unfeeling. Now and then we simply get stuck. Our circumstances confuse us, we feel discouraged, or we are bone-weary and simply don’t know what to say.

Take heart! We never pray alone. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us; He prays with and for us every single time we pray.

But how exactly does He help us in our prayers?

  1. The Spirit gives direction.

Have you ever had someone pop into your head and felt a need to pray for them? This is a nudging of the Holy Spirit. Don’t ignore it. He is our counselor who, at times, will lay on our hearts things for which we ought to pray. Maybe it is a person, maybe it is a circumstance, or maybe it is a nudge to repent. This is a way the Holy Spirit helps direct our prayers.

  1. The Spirit intercedes when we don’t know what to pray.

How often have things happened that have left us wondering what God was doing? God’s ways are not our ways, which can lead to us feeling confused. We don’t know the sovereign will of God, so we don’t know if we should pray for healing or strength, or more faith and patience. All of these things are good things to pray for, but we find ourselves without direction in the midst of our hurt.

When we are at our wit’s end, we can rest assured that the Spirit is never confused about what we need. He knows exactly what to pray for because He knows the desires of our hearts and the will of the Father.  And because the Spirit’s prayers are always in accordance with the will of God, they are always answered. This is amazing to me! It should also be a great encouragement for us to keep praying especially when we feel weak, when we are overwhelmed, or when we are devastated.

God has said that He will never leave us—this includes our times of prayer. The Spirit is there joining us in our weakness, helping us pray, and interceding for us on our behalf.

None of our prayers are wasted! God the Father hears them all because He cares for those who have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus and sealed for eternity with the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us every time we pray. No wonder prayer is so powerful! Pray boldly about anything and everything, remembering that God is at work in you and hears all of your prayers.

Looking to Jesus,

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Jen Thorn

Jen Thorn

Jen Thorn grew up in Germany and then spent her teenage years in Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She moved to the United States for college and attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago where she met her husband. They have been married for twenty-two years and have four children. Jen lives in the suburbs of Chicago, where her husband is the pastor of Redeemer Fellowship. Jen is passionate about theology and the connection to daily living.

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