God’s Tender Mercies

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.    (Romans 8:26)

Do you ever feel inadequate about your praying?  Ever feel guilty that you don’t pray enough or in the right way?  Ever get distracted or lost in your praying?  Ever feel like you are just a failure in your praying?

Even though I have been a professional-prayer for more than 35 years, I have felt every one of the questions that I mention in the first paragraph.  Let me add one more that I load on myself:  Surely by now, surely since you have been ordained for so long, surely after all the praying you have done both for yourself and others, shouldn’t you know how to pray?  Such questions and chastisements aren’t a good foundation or stimulus for my praying.  Do such questions or chastisements work for you?

If you, like me, sometimes struggle with your praying, I would like to share today’s scripture.  These words help me to lighten up and stop scolding myself.  These words also give me great hope.

What does this scripture proclaim?  It says that even if we’re distracted or confused in our praying; or even if we aren’t always focused or on-fire in our praying; or even if our praying can feel shallow and self-serving; or even if we sometimes don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray, that the Spirit of God will continue to pray in, with, and through us.  No matter how deficient or flawed our praying may seem, God’s Spirit will make up the difference.

If God’s Spirit is always interceding for us, does that suggest that we can just stop trying to pray?  By no means.  Why not?  Because every time we turn to God in prayer, no matter how weak or paltry our efforts might seem, God still delights.  Our praying also opens us up to receive the blessings that God wants to give.  What are those blessings?  Love, peace, grace, courage, patience, wisdom, maturity, trust.

As we face the coronavirus epidemic, it is important that we are praying for God’s tender mercies and guidance.  And, as we lift all of our needs, desires, worries, anxieties, and fears to God, it would be natural and understandable if anyone felt overwhelmed or inadequate in their praying.

My desire for sharing these reflections on today’s scripture is that we would be encouraged to keep on praying, regardless of any assessments we may have about it. If we always remembered that we are praying to a Father who loves us, that Jesus is at our side, and that the Holy Spirit is always interceding for us with “sighs too deep for words,” our praying would be changed and deepened.  Every time we pray, we are being enveloped, inspired, and led by God. That gives me great hope.  I pray it does the same for you.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you pray? How do you feel about your praying?
  1. How do you need the Holy Spirit to be interceding for you right now?
  1. If you remembered that your prayer partners are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, how might your praying, or your experience of praying, change?


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