How to Pray Part 2: What to Pray
Continuing on in this series on praying in the Spirit we will cover the fact that there is a precise way in which we need to pray but cannot without God’s help. Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
For We Know Not
Paul makes an amazing statement we don’t have a clue what to pray for. The most amazing thing about that statement is he includes himself. If anyone in all of history would pray right: he was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, was a pharisee of the pharisee’s, he was hand picked by God to take the Gospel to the gentiles. Furthermore, he wrote a large part of the new testament while simultaneously planting dozens of churches. Despite all of that Paul said apart from divine enablement I don’t know what to pray for. Paul knew that his flesh, and deceitful heart would make it impossible to ever pray the right prayer.
Well if the Apostle Paul doesn’t know what to pray for then we can be sure we don’t. Consequently we must be completely reliant on the Holy Spirit to be leading, and guiding our prayers. That is why it is a good discipline to be asking God what to pray for. You see we treat God like some cosmic Santa Clause, that’s just there to listen to all our wants, and needs. Don’t get me wrong God wants to take care of you, but what he really wants is to have a relationship with you. Relationships require two way communication not just talking listening. What relationship has ever lasted when one party always talked, and never listened. God wants to tell you what to pray for. So put away your Christmas list, and auctioneer voice, and start asking God questions then, shut up and listen to His answers.
Why is it important to pray for the things God leads you to pray for instead of always whats on your prayer list? Because what God leads you to pray for He will bring to pass. 1 John 5:14-15 says it this way, “…this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” So if you pray according to the will of God He will hear, and he will answer.” But how do we determine the will of God? Two ways the word of God, and the Spirit of God. That is why it is tremendously important to pray scripture, but it is also important to be led of the Spirit in your prayer.
As We Ought
In modern usage ought is an expression of desire with no real intention of follow through. For instance, “I really ought to go to the store”, or ” I really ought to start exercising.” That is not at all what ought means in this verse. The word translated “ought” is the greek word dei, which means that which is required, a necessity, or that which is legally binding. So for instance when Jesus says, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” He is not saying it sure would be nice if you prayed. No way, He is saying it is legally binding upon you that you pray.
So in other words Paul is not saying, “you know we really should pray a certain way, but we don’t know how.” Rather he is emphasizing the fact that is it essential, and legally binding that we pray for the right things, at the right time, in the right way, but we don’t have a clue how to apart from the Holy Spirit. So in our praying we need set aside our agenda, and let God lead us. E.M. Bounds said, “it is better to have prayer without words, then words without prayer.” Take time to ask God how to pray, when to pray, and what to pray for. Then listen to what He has to say. Today lets make our prayers a conversation, a dialogue not a monologue.