The Father Loves Our Stumbling Prayers
Prayer is the most important activity of disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet today’s church is bereft of prayer. Why? Do we feel we don’t know a formula that will get us success with God? Do we fear we lack a vocabulary to get God’s attention? Do we despair of prayer because it is hard work? Do we have insufficient values that make our prayers so few? Are we afraid mere words will fail our hearts and not reach the Father’s ears? Do we fear that God is such a judge that our expressions cannot move His heart?
I recently celebrated my sixty-first birthday. Two of the highlights of the day were FaceTime calls from my grandchildren. I have five grandsons and one beautiful granddaughter. But one grandchild got my attention immediately. It was James. James has Downs Syndrome. While his receptive vocabulary is really good, his low muscle tone makes his speech difficult to understand at times. But, he is improving constantly and I understand his words more and more. On my birthday, the grandkids called to sing me “Happy Birthday.” They did great and this time I understood almost every word that James sang. And, in several calls since he has continued to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. I will not ever get tired of it. I will not ever quit trying to decipher every last word he says to me. And, James was never afraid that I would not understand him. That kid exudes confidence in his granddad.
Romans 8:26-27 (ESV) gives us the reason why what we say and what words we use in talking to the Father may not be so important. “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 groanings 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.”
The Holy Spirit is our ally in prayer. He takes our words, our groanings, even our tears, and makes their meanings know to the Father. And, our Father desires to hear and understand us.
A toddler runs to his daddy, excited, full of things to say. The toddler babbles much, struggles to say words, drops syllables, misses final consonants, stumbles in putting two-word sentences together. What dad would shout at his toddler, “Don’t talk to me like that ever again. When you can say it right, you can come back. Get your babbling out of my sight and my hearing.” No dad would do such a thing. He would sweep the little one into his lap and listen to every sound. He would look into his child’s eyes and watch her lips. He would want to understand his child. He would help the child say words. He would coach and coax. And every sound, however imprecise, would bring joy to the dad’s heart. And that dad would respond.
We do have a good, good Father in heaven. He loves us. He desires our stammering and our babbling. He wants to know us and hear us. So He listens to the Spirit interpret the desires of our hearts. He hears the explanations of our pains and our joys. No matter how our prayers fall short, because we pray, the Father knows. The Father hears. The Father listens. The Father takes joy in every word, every groan, every tear we share with him.
So, why do we fear and fail in prayer when the Father loves our stumbling prayers? Let us approach the throne with bold faith, convinced that the Holy Spirit will give our prayers their fullest meaning. Our loving Father will hear and respond.
Scripture: Read Romans 8:26-28. How do verses 26 and 27 help you believe and trust verse 28?
Dig Deeper: Read The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson.
Walter H. Norvell is a resident fellow with BHCTI and serves on the faculty of Williams Baptist College in the Department of Christian Ministries. He blogs The 1-Minute Sunday School Trainer at www.WalterNorvell.com.