Let us pray: Dear Savior, whenever we take the time to talk to You in prayer, not only do we feel better, but our lives improve! We’re calmer and more able to cope; we’re energized and more able to accomplish things; and we’re happier and more civil to others. Today, teach us anew to pray without ceasing. And remind us that when we fail, you’ve got it all covered by means of Your active, forgiving love. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO WANTS US TO PRAY!
TEXT: Romans 8: 26,27
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Most of us have car insurance, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, life insurance, medical insurance and various liability insurance. I’ve even bought coverage to protect my identity from theft! It’s the price of living in modern society, isn’t it? A few people even have something called: umbrella insurance. That is, if and when a claim against you exceeds your other coverages, that policy will kick in to protect you. And as one salesman once said: “If you exceed all that, just pray a lot!”
You know, prayer is a lot like insurance, isn’t it? When we talk to God about our troubles, our worries, and our various needs we know He both hears and answers. Christ Himself says so: “Ask and it will be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it will be opened unto you.” Just like caring parents love to have their children open up to them, so God loves it when we open up to Him in prayer. And just as parents try to fix their children’s problems, so God loves to fix ours as well.
Unfortunately, like most teenagers with their parents, we also tend to be withdrawn from God more than we’d like to admit. Yes, I know that Christians pray. It is part of our faith and our very core being. Most of us pray before or after meals, when we lie down to sleep or get up, at church, and throughout the day as well. But, do we really pray about the core issues that bother and afflict us, or are we like a sullen teen who doesn’t know exactly why they are morose and when asked responds: “I don’t know.”? It’s easy and natural to pray about those obvious issues that affect us: job, finances, family issues, marriage struggles, and health. But, too often we just are not aware of the underlying afflictions that help spur them on like: a lack of personal honesty, repressed guilt, or a failure in life to assume real responsibility for our actions. Thus, our prayers too often deal with the symptoms instead of getting at the real cause of our troubles.
Well, this is exactly where today’s lesson comes into play! God knows all things. He even knows what is really bothering us before we do. And because He loves each and every one of His children in Christ, He has given the Holy Spirit a vital task. “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 with groans that words cannot express.” If you take those words seriously and then go back to our original discussion of insurance, you’ll see that:
THE SPIRIT PROVIDES THE ULTIMATE INSURANCE FOR A LOUSY PRAYER LIFE
Most Christians don’t know as much about the Spirit as they do about the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. But, we should! After all, the Spirit is true God. He is the distinctive 3rd member of the Blessed Trinity. His work comes under the general heading of: sanctification, or making us holy people. That work encompasses our conversion, or bringing us to faith in Christ. To do that the Spirit uses means or tools whereby He comes to apply the forgiveness Christ won on the cross to each of us. He converts us from sinners into saints through His power in baptism and also through the power of hearing God’s Word of love and forgiveness. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Likewise, “Baptism does now also save us.” Likewise, He comes alongside the very body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper to strengthen and apply the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice to our lives thus making us more holy people. Everything in our lives, when it comes to our Godly relationship with our Creator, can be traced back to the Spirit and His power to change us for the better. He is in charge of expanding our oneness with the Almighty God. And one aspect of that oneness is prayer.
As I mentioned in our introduction, everyone’s prayer life could use improvement and everyone’s prayer life is a bit dishonest in that we seldom ask for help with the underlying causes for our troubles. As struggling sinners we choke on the vapors of the sins that afflict us and ask for deliverance from them, but we fail to recognize and to pray about the toxic brew that causes them. We like to think we know ourselves better than anyone else, including God! But thinking that is a huge mistake, my friends. Our inherited, original sin is so corrosive that it blinds us from even admitting how corrosive it really is. If you doubt that, listen to what Jesus says: “Out of the heart proceeds murder, adultery, theft, false witness and blasphemy.” Did you catch it? “Out of the heart.” The actual committing of such sins is bad, but the source of them, the human heart, is worse! Most of the time when we pray for deliverance we pray about the “thing” instead of the source of our troubles, don’t we? What to do? Are we without help and hope because the bubbling pot of evil within blinds us and thus we’ll never receive a real cure? No! For it is at exactly this point that The Spirit Provides The Ultimate Insurance For A Lousy Prayer Life!
“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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”
That is a glorious text! First, the Holy Spirit wants to help us because He loves us in Christ. Because of Christ’s boundless love for us won on the cross, the Spirit sees our many weaknesses and wants to help us with them. He knows what we ought to pray for, and about, and don’t. So, the Spirit prays about those issues for us! His groans and utterances on our behalf before God’s throne cannot even be put into human words. That’s how powerful and magnificent they are! The Spirit searches the very heart of God, searches our hearts, and prays for all those things we don’t pray for—all in accordance to God’s will and not our own sin-tainted will. In short, we’re covered! He’s the ultimate in umbrella insurance!
One final thought. Because of all this you might think: “Well, since the Spirit does it for me, I don’t need to pray as much or be concerned about the innermost parts of my psyche. Ah, but such thoughts abuse His love, don’t they? Such thoughts take Him for granted. And such use and abuse will eventually turn the saint into an open sinner who has cut himself or herself off from the Spirit and canceled His coverage! Don’t do that. Instead, be honest, pray daily, engage in ongoing repentance, and “trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding.” And always, always, always, cling to the fact that Christ has paid up your policy in full with His blood! Amen