Romans 8:34, Romans 8:26
How to use your sword, how to use God’s word, in prayer. We’ve talked about how you can study God’s word and chew on God’s word, but then praying God’s word back to him. How is your prayer life?
Well, if it’s anything like mine, it’s probably sporadic. There’s all kinds of obstacles to a healthy prayer life. There’s time. There’s prioritization. Sometimes if you’re trying to go through prayers at night, right before you fall asleep, you just get tired and you start sinking into sleep. Maybe there’s a couple more things that tend to become obstacles to our prayer life, too. Instead of being on a narrow Lutheran road of prayer, we may fall into a ditch on either side. The Messiah complex or cynicism.
What do I mean? Well, sometimes I fall into the Messiah complex, and that ruins my prayer life. Because I start to forget that I’m not the Messiah, that the Messiah has already come and he’s done a very good job redeeming and taking care of everything and saving this world. But sometimes I start to think I need to be the savior now. As a pastor it’s tough because we’re using God’s word and thinking it’s me who is going to make this church work well or bring people to faith. But as just anybody, we can start to think I need to be the one to rescue my family or take care of myself. Everything is on me. And instead of bringing anything to prayer, we start to just keep it to ourselves because we have to be the hero in this situation.
On the other side of things is cynicism. Is God really going to answer my prayer anyway? Does God really care about little old me with so many others out there, is you just this God who watches over things and lets them happen? Or everything is determined anyway, God knows where things start and where they finish, so why bother praying?
Neither of those things is biblical, is it? Instead, for all the times when I have failed to pray for the things that would be helpful for me in my life, the things that would be good for people in my life when I failed to bring my prayers to God. And you have too, hear this encouragement from our Triune God. In Romans chapter 8, verse 34, we see that this is happening all the time.
Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, who died and, more than that, was raised to life, is the one who is at God’s right hand and who is also interceding for us! (Romans 8:34)
Maybe, your conscience starts to feel guilty about your prayer life. Who is the one who can condemn you for that? Nobody anymore, because Jesus has washed away your sins and Jesus is right there interceding for you. He is the perfect prayer in your place. He’s he’s in between us and God speaking on our behalf to God, the Father. If you want to know what that sounds like, maybe go back and read through John chapter 17 and Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. He brings us before the Throne of Grace.
And then for those times when when we just don’t know what to pray for, when there’s big things going on in our life, we just we don’t know what we should do and we’re just speechless. Listen to what else God says, how the Holy Spirit helps us in Romans 8 verse 26 says
In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we should pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that are not expressed in words. (Romans 8:26)
When we don’t know what to pray for, when we’re just saying, Oh God, the Holy Spirit takes those imperfect prayers and brings them perfect to God the Father completely aligned with his will. So we’ve got Jesus for every time I go silent, Jesus never goes silent. He’s interceding for us. And we’ve got the Holy Spirit himself bringing our prayers to God, the father.
So now we read God’s word and maybe we think about who is it that we can pray for? Maybe you start with immediate family, extended family, church family, your your community. God calls us to pray for our government officials, bring those people to God, maybe in a systematic way on Monday, pray for these people, on Tuesday for these people.
And then also remember that a neat way to pray is to think of it as spiritual breathing. You do this in connection with Bible reading, with your study of God’s word. You breathe in all the promises that God has for you, what he expects of you, what he’s done for you. And then in prayer, you use his words and you breathe those things back to him. In light of what I’ve heard you say, God, please help me with this. Thank you for that. I glorify you because you are like this. Spiritual, breathing, breath in God’s word and breathe out his word back to him. May that bless you in your devotion and prayer life too.