Who Is Your Prayer Advocate?

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. – Romans 8:26-27

The way of a man with a maiden. Oy.

I knew a girl in college back in the 80’s who I greatly desired to marry. Problem was, she showed no interest in me as a possible spouse. I lacked the courage to tell her exactly how I felt and hoped that eventually she would pick up on my feelings through osmosis.

To make matters worse, she loved my company and considered me one of her best friends. We hung out a lot. We went to dinner frequently. She flew home with me from Oklahoma to Canada on fall break to visit my family. She told me all about her dates with other guys and the struggles she went through with trying to find a guy who was going to treat her right. I smiled through gritted teeth and said lame things like, “Well, I am sure the right guy will come along eventually.”

One night, in my relational agony, I prayed, “Lord, change her heart. Open her eyes. Let her see that I am the one for her. Bring us together as husband and wife. Amen.”

Shortly after that, she began seriously dating a guy whom she would eventually come to marry years later. Also shortly after that, I met the woman to whom I would spend the rest of my life with.

And they all lived happily ever after.

But what about that prayer of mine? Was that a waste of time? Did I utter it in pure selfishness? If I had prayed harder and with greater faith, would she have become my wife? Over the years, I have asked a much deeper and more serious question that stems from this prayer for a wife all those years ago. What’s the point of praying for anything, if God’s just going to do whatever He wants to do?

While I don’t have a definitive answer (beyond that we are commanded to pray for all manner of things regardless of the outcome, Ephesians 6:18), I am encouraged by the Romans passage listed above. Sure, we would love to pray for everything that God wants for us. But the truth is we often have no idea what God actually wants us to pray for. This is why the believer in Jesus is given the Holy Spirit. According to verse 26, the Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. That means that sometimes, there are no correct words for the real thing we are trying to pray for. We don’t know what it is, and even if we did, it would seem that words themselves wouldn’t communicate it well enough. That is how elusive the will of God can sometimes be.

But the Spirit knows that. So he takes our prayers, however disjointed, selfish, and unhelpful they might be, and He translates them into the language of God’s will. So, I pray for that girl to be my wife. The Spirit takes my prayer and translates it: “Lord, reveal to Him the woman he IS going to marry and allow him to let the other girl go.” That perfect prayer reaches God’s ears, and He responds in accordance with His will.

So, when you pray, do not become filled with anxiety about the content of your prayer. Let your heart pray an honest prayer in the moment. It might be wrong. It might be off. It might not be what God wants for you. But the Holy Spirit is advocating for you at the throne of heaven and is making sure that your prayers reach God’s ears correctly. You can trust Him to answer your prayer HIS way, with your best interests at heart.

Pastor Scott