One of my biggest regrets from my brief songwriting career is that the song I wrote about one of my favorite passages of scripture happened to be the worst song I’ve ever written. The lyrics were okay, I guess, but the music was just plain bad. My thought process was that if I waited until my songwriting abilities were good enough to do the passage justice, I could wait too long and the verse might not mean as much to me anymore. So I cranked the song out, and now I’m left with something that I really, really don’t like.
However, I still love the passage. Here it is:
…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Sometimes, when I pray I have this fear that God won’t hear my prayer if I don’t talk for long enough. Like there’s a risk that I could finish praying before he’s even noticed I was saying something. The problem is, sometimes I come up against something in my life that’s so big or so profound that I don’t know what to pray for. There’s no way I can pray for long enough because I don’t know what I can specifically ask God to do that will most effectively resolve the situation.
And a lot of the time, I think that’s my problem.
If I think the effectiveness of my prayer life is based on how eloquent and how long-winded I can be when I approach the throne of God, I’m severely misguided. If the Holy Spirit can help me out by groaning, then surely I don’t need to give God a rousing speech for my prayers to count.
The whole thing really is ironic. Asking God for things in prayer is all about acknowledging that you can’t accomplish something on your own. And then here I am thinking the length and eloquence that I can come up with will have some sort of impact on God’s response. Prayer is so much bigger than flowery speeches to the ceiling. It’s a powerful, even mystical process that I, for one, don’t think I fully understand.
And so, occasionally I try to let the Holy Spirit do some groaning for me.
Question of the Week
What does your prayer life look like? Do you ever feel pressure to make your prayers last longer?