Praying was always a mystery to me. I never quite figured it out, and it was hard to get into a habit. I especially didn’t like public prayer—I felt silly praying out loud, and I didn’t like all the pressure. In my faith tradition, prayers were never scripted, unlike sermons, so it was a burden to get up to the front and lead the group in an unscripted prayer.
Praying in the Spirit
Prayer was hard until I took a class in college called “Counseling for Ministers.” It was a semester of tips on how to counsel churchgoers in their times of need. What I learned about prayer in that class stuck out to me the most—I never considered prayer as part of a counseling session!
Since spoken prayer is so important in counseling, the teacher urged us to pray before we prayed. The advice was to “pray in the Spirit.” As we bowed our heads, we were told to take a few moments of silence to ask the Spirit to guide our words. Then, we’d launch into speaking the prayer aloud. Something remarkable happened when I did this. The Spirit clearly worked in the prayer!
The Spirit Intercedes
This isn’t just a trick for pastors though. Everyone can access the power of the Spirit in prayer. When we don’t have the words to say, the Spirit intercedes on our behalf. What does the Spirit interceding look like? It might be that you are pointed to a particular passage of Scripture or might feel the sudden urge to stop and pray for someone or something. Maybe the Spirit gives you the strength to talk to God when you don’t feel like praying at all.
In the context of Romans 8, Paul is writing of the troubling times in the world. He says we can’t see the future, but we can have faith and hope. Later in the chapter, Paul passionately preaches that as Spirit-filled believers, we will triumph. We don’t always know what to pray for because we are imperfect and don’t know what our earthly future holds. But that’s why we have the Spirit interceding for us! Consider starting your prayers by praying in the Spirit, invite the Holy Spirit to take over and guide you when communicating with God.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of the Spirit in our lives. Spirit, come and intercede for me. Guide my heart as I lift it toward God. Help me to rely on You as I try to live a life that glorifies God with every breath. Amen.
- How can I listen for the Spirit’s work in my prayer life?
- How can praying out loud help those around me?
- Why is prayer so important that the Spirit must get involved?
- What topics do I tend to avoid when I pray to God?
- Why might we ignore the role of the Spirit in our prayer life?
- How can Spirit-guided prayer help me grow in my faith in God?
- How can I make praying in the Spirit my routine?
“In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 HCSB