I recently had a friend ask me to pray that his prayer life would not be so self-centered but that he would pray for others. I know exactly what he is talking about. Many times when I am finished praying I realize my selfishness. I genuinely say I love others but then I don’t pray for them which really reveals more of my heart. But then God graciously reminded me of the truth. I can get so sucked into my feelings instead of hearing what God’s Word says about prayer. Also note I am not making an excuse to not pray or just pray for yourself but take comfort in the Word of God if you are like me and have a weak, self-centered prayer life.
“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 groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
This is good news! If you are a child of the risen Christ he has graciously given us his Spirit to intercede on our behalf. As I was thinking about what this means I started to realize that as his children we cannot pray selfish prayers. This reality ought to bring us a humble spirit. We should be broken by the fact that sinners like you and I can offer up prayers to God without selfish ambition. Yes our own hearts will be prideful and selfish but we must remember the Holy Spirit is interceding for us “according to the will of God.” This is truly mind-blowing.
Think about how prayer works: Sinners approach the throne of grace through our great High Priest Jesus Christ and as we pray his Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. Why? Because as sinners we do not know how to pray as we ought. We must be completely dependent on God for everything. Prayer is a humble admission of this reality. The Triune God works in perfect harmony when prayers are offered up from a broken heart. While our words may not always come out in a correct manner the Holy Spirit sees our hearts. He knows our desire, by his grace alone, is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Grace upon grace,