To be really frank, I’m feeling a little lost lately regarding what’s next for me – if anything. I feel like I’m in limbo, and it’s weirdly haunting. If I begin to feel normal again, this discontentment rises up from some depths. Is that all this is? Discontentment? I can and will continue to pray for guidance. I may just have to sit tight for a while. But, goodness, it would be nice to know what’s next. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has experienced this.
26 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. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8: 26-28)
“For we do not know…” It does not say, “For when we do not know,” or “if we do not know.” It simply says “we do not.” God knows that we do not know exactly what to pray for. And goodness knows I’m struggling with that right now.
Prayer can be tricky. I had to get to a point where my understanding of prayer was completely broken down so that I could build it back up on a stronger foundation. It was the prayer request/gossip hour/show-and-tell time that did it for me. You know what I’m talking about: when the Bible Study leader says, “do we have any prayer requests,” and you cringe because you know for the next 20 minutes all you will be hearing is everyone’s schedule for the week as they attempt to out-do each other in the need for prayer. Yikes.
My logic had to reach this point: God is not reactionary. My request doesn’t really change anything – that would be placing the power in my hands. And yet I know prayer is important. I know it is incredible that we have an open line of communication with God, so what am I supposed to do with it?
Prayer is for our benefit.
We need the guidance that becomes present to us in prayer. We need to think about what God is doing/can do/will do in our lives. We need to communicate with God. How many times have you said to a friend/relative/spouse, “I know, but I needed to hear you say it”? Though that’s a silly little example, I feel like it is akin to the need for prayer. Yes, He knows what we are going to say, but we still need to say it. If He didn’t actually require anything of us, all of our religious practices would break down rather quickly. But He does require, and we must respond.
In the Garden of Eden, God called out to Adam and Eve. He asked where they were. He knew, but they needed to respond. They needed to speak with Him in order to understand how their relationship had changed.
And though this is a very basic concept for some, I have encountered many people my age that are reaching that point where their concept of prayer is broken down. As teachers, this can be especially true. We pray for our kids, but what is it really doing? We feel like there are so many of them, and we only know so much about them. How could my prayer really make a difference? I don’t know enough. But the spirit “helps us in our weakness,” and I am incredibly grateful for that. I don’t know what to pray for in my own life. I don’t know what to pray for in the lives of my students. But if we just pray, God will lead us in the right direction.