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Help When You Can’t Pray

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Call to Prayer, Holy Spirit, Intercession, Prayer

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. … For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. … Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:18, 22-24a, 26-27ESV)

Do you ever have times when you just don’t know how to pray? Maybe it’s a terrible, complicated situation, and you honestly can’t figure out what would be the best thing to happen, and what you want to ask God for. Only God is wise enough to figure this mess out!

Or maybe you can see perfectly what you want to pray for—but you are worn down, exhausted, grieving or terrified, and you can barely open your mouth to shape the words. You cannot sleep, you cannot eat, and you are certainly not up to the task of asking for anything. Maybe you get out a few words. Maybe you just groan.

Paul comfort s us at these times. He tells us that God the Trinity helps us even when we have no strength to pray and no wisdom to know what to ask for. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He prays on our behalf, even if we can’t pray at all.

What a relief! What a joy to simply hand the burden, whatever it is, over to the Holy Spirit and say, “Please, You pray about this, because I can’t.” I can say that and then go to sleep, because I know His prayer is perfect, and will be exactly in accord with the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit makes no mistakes, and whatever He asks for will be the right thing. And the Father will hear Him—and us!—for Jesus’ sake.

I’m so glad we have a God who helps us with even the most basic things, like talking to Him! No matter how weak we are, He is there to help us. And no surprise, for this is the One who lay down His very life to rescue us from the power of evil—and who rose from the dead to give us life that will last forever. Trust Him.

We Pray: Dear God, thank You for helping me in my weakest times. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on July 19, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. When have you felt unable to pray?