I was talking to a colleague at work this week and she referenced the following scripture by saying, we do not know what to pray for.
The scripture is found in Romans 8:26 and it reads, “ In the same way, 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”.
Upon hearing those words from her, everything else she was saying just faded into the background. Her lips were moving, but I wasn’t hearing anything else apart from, “we do not know what to pray for”.
What did God really mean by telling us this? Because in our minds, we know what to pray for, don’t we? For instance.
- You and your boss are constantly in disagreements at work. Wouldn’t you pray for peace?
- Your spouse and you are going through a difficult time at present. Isn’t’ it wise to pray for wisdom and understanding?
- A woman is barren and wants a child. Shouldn’t she be praying that God opens her womb?
- When someone needs a financial injection, isn’t the best place to start is by asking God for blessings and increase?
We know that the list above would be endless if I continue typing, since just as our faces differ, our needs and wants differ as well. Thus, making Godly requests never ending
How could we have so many requests but yet still God is telling us that we don’t know what to pray for? Isn’t that interesting? I would even go as far and say amazing. Truly God’s ways and thinking are past finding out.
Maybe, a big part of us not knowing what to pray for comes from what is mentioned in James. James 4:3 (NIV) – “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”. So, along with not knowing what to ask, we ask with the wrong motives. Simply thinking about these two scriptures has me feeling humbled and hungering to really learn how to pray and ask God for things. Maybe a big part of our unanswered prayer comes from these two scriptures. In that, we are asking the wrong thing, or we are only asking to satisfy our pleasures and desires.
Now let’s reverse the 4 prayer points above and see what are some alternate outcomes that can be derived.
- The bible says that there is a time for peace and a time for war (Ecclesiastes 3:8). Maybe the current season with your boss must be one of war?
- You are praying for your spouse to change and become better. But sometimes you are praying about someone else, but the problem is you. You are praying to take the spec of dust out the other person’s eye, when you should be praying to take the plank out of yours (Matthew 5:7).
- You are praying for a child, but God’s desire is to save you from heartache at another time, so he withholds this from you. Remember in the last days God said blessed is the womb that does not bring forth a child (Luke 23:29).
- Someone might be praying for an improved income. But God might be saying it is better to pray for the ability to tithe more, be more generous in your lack and blessings will come.
I want to put forward that sometimes it is not about praying for your specific request, but it is about praying for something else or someone else, and by doing this, your specific request will be granted.
Remember what happened to Job? The Bible says that, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). One would think that given what Job went through, his prayer should have been centered around himself and restoring the pleasures that he lost. However, this was the wrong approach. You see, wrong thinking, leads to the wrong prayer. Thank God that Job was wiser than this and he was able to ask of God correctly to obtain the victory.
The passage in Job underscores the point that we don’t really know what to ask for. In some situations, we just don’t see clearly enough to know what to ask. This is why I thank God for the Holy Spirit, who is our guide that leads us into all truth (John 16:13). The spirit will lead us into the truth of what is a good prayer.
So today, I just want to encourage someone to humbly present yourself before God and tell Him you don’t know how to pray, but you are willing to learn. Ask Him to give you the wisdom of what to ask? Take your mind off your problem and ask Him, “Lord, what should I really be praying about in this situation”?. By doing this, I have no doubt that situations in your life will turn around and turn around quickly.
I close this blog by saying. Let’s not always come before God to ask based on what we think our needs are. But let’s come before God, to ask God, “What should we be asking God?”.
PS: Dane Miller was last seen learning to pray all over again.
Note, for other topics on prayer, you can see the following:
- You can call Upon the Lord
- When God says No or Wait – Part 1
- When God says No or Wait – Part 2
- When Gods says No or Wait – Part 3
Your Brother in the Lord,
Dane Miller – “God is the Author, I am the Pen”
Authored Book – What is the Woman Saying – Lessons from Biblical Women.
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It seems really uncanny that as believers we don’t know what to pray for. But we cannot go against what God’s word says. As Dane indicated, it says we don’t know. We create prayer lists, have prayer chains, hold half night of prayer and we even prayer and fast without consultation with our true prayer partner, God. Maybe, when God says ask and we shall receive, that first asking, is to find out what to pray for. Thank you Dane for this insightful read. Blessings to you always 🙏