How Can We Know What We Need?
Lessons 1-8 of the Always Praying series has radically transformed my knowledge and need for a prayer life but Lesson #9 brings it all back to the Father. We can’t even begin to know what we actually need to pray about because God says we can’t know.
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness: for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
We do not ever truly know what we need, especially in our weakness. Only the Spirit knows what we truly need and only He can ask. Therefore, even in our worst suffering, we may feel like we need relief; may die without relief but God may not give us that because it’s not what we actually need. Consider Jesus on the cross. We would see a person actively being crucified as being in the utmost need of relief from suffering but He was in the utmost need of doing the Father’s will.
So, because we cannot know what we need; we should never ask/beg the Father to act according to our will (felt needs). There is no leverage we will ever have with Him to make that a successful conversation or prayer. He is sovereign and our suffering may be just the instrument He is using to bring about His will in our lives. Part of that will means being conformed to the image of Christ; a suffering, dying, gloriously-fixated-on-the-will-of-God Christ.
Being a Suffering Saint
We have to learn to count it ‘all joy’ to suffer. Paul tells us that, “…the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). There is hope in our suffering. Paul also tells us that this hope will produce a perseverance in us where we eagerly wait for what we do not see (Romans 8:24-25).
[ Are you a Christian that does not feel that hope, joy and perseverance in your suffering? There is an answer! Pastor Wilson gives a lesson on how to crush despair and depression in the Christian’s life from the June 4, 2017 Adult Discipleship Class entitled “Depression, Psalms 42”. ]
The Spirit that dwells in us knows all of our needs and will pray to God directly for us. Actually He does this with intensity (“groaning”). Only the Spirit is completely lined up with the will of the Father. It is too great a knowledge for our minds and it’s too important a job to get wrong. God loves us so much that only the Spirit is entrusted with this information. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us to leave these needs to God and, “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things [needs] will be added to you”. Which brings us right back to using the Lord’s Prayer as a template for any and all conversation with God.
In two weeks, in Lesson #10, we will look at James 5 and how we are to pray properly for the sick. Feel free to listen ahead and learn how “a righteous prayer accomplishes much”.
On a lighter note, see comedian John Crist on prayer requests.
I encourage anyone who hasn’t listened to the Always Praying audio series from Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church in Bowling Green, to go back and be immersed in the foundational theology of prayer. Each lesson has an accompanying blog post summarization found in Views from the Pew which began April 13, 2017.