And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray. 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. (Rom 8:26-27)

Prayer is a common struggle for me. It’s not about the length, because even short prayers can be effective if our hearts are right with God (see James 5:16). The struggle for me is more often on what to say. Praying scripture is one way to know what to say. But sometimes the scriptures I know aren’t speaking to the topic I’m struggling to pray about. The struggle quite often is for words that express my heart.

Prayer can also be a struggle in times of uncertainty, suffering and helplessness. For example, our global partners in Turkey, India and Paraguay have all communicated with me in the last two days of situations with government that are beyond their control. They have asked for prayer. What do I pray to God on their behalf; remove the barriers, give them favor with local officials, safety? Is there more?

The two verses above give direction. It’s ok if we have a struggle of not knowing what God wants us to pray for. We still try even if it’s weak. The Holy Spirit stands in for us, in the language of groanings that the Father knows because God knows our hearts and hears our well-intentioned prayers.

The outcome?

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Rom 8:28)

This verse tells me that God causes everything to work together for the good of those in prayer who love God. This is a verse centered on prayer. It’s about our struggle in prayer and God’s promise that he brings about good from that struggle when the words never come.

How do we know what to pray for our global partners, when we don’t understand their situation? We do our best and trust the groanings of the Holy Spirit to be understood by the Father, who knows our hearts. How do we pray for our loved ones or ourselves, when words don’t come? We do our best and know the Holy Spirit pleads for us in harmony with God’s will.

Our weaknesses and his Spirit work together because God loves us and knows exactly how to line up our heartfelt prayers with his God-ordained outcomes. Nothing in all creation can separate us from that kind of love (Romans 8:35-39).

When the words don’t come, for yourself or someone halfway around the world, you can still pray. The Holy Spirit will help you.

Til next week,