“It’s not all up to you.”
She had given me a burdensome list of prayer needs. Her husband was battling a terminal illness, her daughter was in a bad situation, the grandchildren were at risk, and she herself felt so far from the Lord.
I’m breaking no confidence in sharing this. First, she gave permission, and second, her needs are not unlike a dozen people whom I know. There is a lot of this going around. A few minutes later, a mother whom I do not know, but who found us on the internet, wrote with a similar list of prayer needs.
She asked me to pray for her. She did not ask for advice. However, while I am indeed lifting her needs in prayer, the next best gift I can give is to encourage her own praying. I asked if she was “up” to my commenting on her prayers. She was.
I said the following seven things to her.
One. “There is something about a mother’s prayers. For reasons I don’t understand, they seem to carry a great deal of weight in Heaven, perhaps more than others. I can’t prove it; I just believe it.”
“I want you to pray.”
Two. “Several times a day, just drop to your knees, even if it’s just for 10 seconds.”
Just do it.
Three. “If you don’t say anything else to the Lord, just call out the names of your loved ones for whom you are praying.”
I do this myself. I might say, “Dear Lord–Bertha. Neil, Julie, Grant, Abby and Cody, and Erin; Marty, Misha, Darilyn and Jack; Jinoke, Leah and Weston, Jessica and JoAnne! James and Lari, Allison and Joe, Megan and Ben, Shannon, and Ethan; Jeff and Kim, Juliet, Zoe, and Jaycee. Thank you!”
And sometimes, I just picture the whole group and don’t mention their names at all.
Four. “I want you to turn to Romans 8:26 and read it again and again and again.”
In the same way, the Spirit also helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Five. “Notice two big things in that verse: a) You and I don’t pray well, and b) the Holy Spirit picks up the slack. He intercedes for us. So, it’s not all up to us.”
Six. “You will notice that verse 34 of that same Romans 8 says the risen-and-ascended Lord Jesus also intercedes for us at the ‘right hand of God.’
The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus both are interceding for us. How good is that!
Our accusing heart says our prayers are so weak they do no good and God would not possibly hear us. The heart is deceitful and cannot be trusted.
Seven. The Lord is on our side. Verse 31 of Romans 8 says, “If (since) God is for us, who can be against us?” And then, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
The Lord takes our side. He wants us to do well in life. Both the Holy Spirit and the Glorified Son are interceding for us in Heaven.
Verse 26 contains another treasure in the word translated “helps.” The Greek word is synantilambanomai, a compound word made up of syn meaning “together or with,” anti meaning “in front of or opposite to,” and lambanomai, a form of the verb “to lift.” Together, that big word translates to: together with you, on the other side, under the burden and lifting with you.
The Holy Spirit gets on the other side of our prayer burden and gets under it, then together with us, lifts.
Is He ever wonderful or what?
Think of a man trying to pull a cross-cut saw by himself. Or a woman trying to make a bed alone. But with a friend on the other side, the work goes so much better. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor…. (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
You are not alone in your praying. The Lord is encouraging your prayer, hearing your prayer, receiving your prayer, and then turning it into far more than anything you ever dreamed of.
My Lord is praying with me.
We are praying a duet.
How eloquent my prayer is, is beside the point.
The question then becomes not whether the Lord hears or cares when we pray. The question is not even do we believe strongly enough. The fact is we believe weakly and pray poorly. But that’s all right. Mustard-seed faith is plenty powerful, according to our Lord (Luke 17:6).
So, the only question is Will You Pray?
Will. You. Pray?
Please pray. When you get to Heaven, you will find your prayers have achieved ten thousand positive things. Our feelings have zero to do with it.
So, stay at it, friend.