Worrier or warrior?
‘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.’ Romans 8: 26 NIV
Can you remember the first time you tried to ride a bicycle? Or maybe your first trip to the dentist? Or perhaps you can recall struggling to find work? Maybe you or someone close endured a health scare. It’s a part of our normal defences to feel concerned when we think that we, or those we love, are at risk. We are in certainly in those sort of circumstances now.
I wonder though, if we sometimes allow our spiritual life to become another thing we get anxious about. ‘Am I faithful enough? Are my prayers right? Why am I still worried?’ Do we beat ourselves up thinking, ‘If only I could pray harder, for longer, mention more names, God might hear me better.’ Maybe we have a good reflex for praying when issues arise, but our trouble is that we fail to approach God with quietness and faith. Then our petitions are merely Christian wishes and worries expressed in a vaguely outward direction. Or worse still, ‘holy gossip.’
Some have a gift of intercession, compelling them to pray for what seems to everyone else like a really long time. For the rest of us, prayer can often be uplifting and draws us to God; but we can also find it hard, even overwhelming.
The refreshing truth is that God knows and cares deeply, as our good Father. Jesus experienced everything in his life on earth. We often forget that not just in his physical death, but in his separation from God, and through a deep spiritual mystery incomprehensible to us, he took on all sin and suffering for all time!
That’s where our freedom comes from. When we reflect on this, it begins to sound illogical that we get worried or overwhelmed by prayer and our relationship with God. That is clearly not trust, which is precisely what we need in order to receive freedom from fear in Christ!
Sometimes a detailed, emotional outpouring seems like the right way to approach God. Sometimes a few words punctuating silence are fitting, allowing more space to speak to us and fill us with His Spirit. God knows our hearts, he hears our conversations. The Holy Spirit even speaks for us when we don’t have the words (Romans 8: 26). What is left in that open, unhurried space is the opposite of worry: supernatural peace (Philippians 4: 7).
When a list of intercessions seems daunting, after a time of praise and centring on God, I simply give Him the names one at a time, and pray, ‘Bless so-and-so. Be all he/she needs.’ I praise God that He knows the best way forward and reflect on verses that affirm that. Then I thank Him for all the good that will come out of the situation (Romans 8: 28).
It’s helpful to remember that the weight of these prayers does not fall on us. All the work is God’s responsibility, and only he has the power to change a person or situation. Our task is to keep our eye on the Healer (Psalm 141:8). It’s also refreshing to consider Revelation 8: 3-5 where John sees a vision in which our prayers rise to God with the incense of burnt offerings of the angels. God hears all of our prayers. They are a beautiful aroma to him, and a treasure which he pours back on us, answered in his timing.
God is waiting for us as a people to pause long enough in communion with Him to recognise His authority, and to allow Him to move in our world. In the same way, he works in our individual hearts. His desire is to be with us, to nurture a relationship through time spent together. He longs to wash over us with His unsurpassed peace, so let’s meet with Him in prayer expectantly!
Laura Simpkins, discipleship coordinator
Suggested further reading
- Romans 8: 26-28
- Philippians 4: 4-7
- Psalm 141: 8
Suggested worship music
Father of All,
I thank you that you desire a relationship with us, and that You receive our prayers with joy. Forgive us for our lack of trust in You and Your ability to reach intoour lives and our world to bring freedom and peace.
I pause now to mention to you the names of people beloved by us both, who need you now. (Pray for specific people on your heart.)
I thank you that you have heard these prayers and know exactly how to bring healing and help in real times of need for these, Your precious children, and my brothers and sisters.
Help me to remember that the burden to rescue and heal is not mine, but Yours; draw me into Your loving presence so that we may commune together, and that I may be directed by You. Holy Spirit, awaken me to your stirrings, and fill me with your peace.
For the sake of the blood shed by the Prince of Peace, Amen.