The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Dear Lord Jesus, even as I come before you today with peace and joy, I also bring a bit of sadness, if not a twinge of anger. Martin Luther’s words come to mind, “Bad theology is the worst of all taskmasters.” My prayer life, like many other parts of my discipleship, has suffered the damaging effects of bad theology through the years. This verse in James, meant to ignite and encourage our praying, used to intimidate and actually discourage my praying.
First of all, I used to assume that the only “powerful and effective” prayer was one to which you responded with a rousing “Yes!”; and secondly, I thought the health of my prayer life was directly related to my maturity as a Christian. What a crippling Christ-less thought.
I thought the more righteous I was, the more inclined you’d be to answer my prayers affirmatively; and if I wasn’t getting my prayers answered, it was probably because of un-confessed sin in my life or because your were trying to teach me some lesson. What a horrible misunderstanding of prayer and a gospel-less approach to discipleship. No wonder it was easier for me to talk about you than to commune with you.
Thankfully, the gospel has been deconstructing and rebuilding my prayer life. Jesus, I now understand that you are the “righteous man” whose prayers are powerful and effective. You are our great prayer warrior—ever living to pray for us, and ever …
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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:26-28
Dear Father, this is one of those days when I could create a long prayer list and methodically go through it, but my praying would be more ritual than reality, more form than faith, more duty than delight. It’s one of those days I’m glad the gospel is much more about your grasp of us than our grip on you. I’m grateful your delight in us is not contingent upon our rejoicing in you. This underscores why I’m so thankful for the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I have no problem or reluctance in acknowledging my weakness this morning. In fact, it’s freeing to know your Spirit doesn’t abandon us when we’re weak but helps us in our weakness—faithfully praying in us and for us with “wordless groans” (Rom. 8:26). Thank you for freedom to groan—to ache, long, wrestle and wait upon you. Father, thank you for the freedom the gospel brings our sometimes very weary and weak hearts. Thank you that the Spirit takes …
Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
Heavenly Father, how we praise you for the gift of the Holy Spirit—who has marked us as yours and who makes us like Jesus. What comfort, assurance and peace we have in knowing that nothing can separate us from your love; nothing will disconnect us from your will; nothing is left up to chance. You will bring to completion the good work you have begun in us and in your world—and you will do so by the power and presence of your Spirit. For so glorious a gospel, so grand a salvation, and so great a hope, we worship and adore you.
As we lean into this day, we gladly give ourselves to the work of your Spirit in us and through us—in particular, our calling to “pray in the Spirit.” We would surely despair if we had to pray in the smallness of our strength, or on the basis of our godliness, or by the limitations of our perspective.
So Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit, for the revealing of your glory, we bring our prayers and requests to you. Do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. Startle us with your faithfulness. Shock us with your goodness. Astonish us by your generosity. We won’t mind being embarrassed by our lack of faith …
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
(As I offer this prayer with a few very specific friends in mind, please do the same. Who might you bring to Jesus’ throne of grace today? Maybe it’s you… certainly it’s you.)
Almighty and merciful Jesus, though I slept well, I begin today restless with concern. I’ve got a few friends dangerously depleted, spiritually numb and as close to giving up as I have ever seen them. One can no longer fight the strong undertow of rage she faces every single day in her home. She’d rather drown than continue to fight the cruel current. Another brother lives in a swirling vortex of shame, either unable or unwilling to believe you won’t crush him if he comes to you. Then there’s the married couple, who know better and are better, but they keep on fertilizing and feasting on weeds of bitterness and spite, not realizing the impact on their hearts, and more tellingly, on their kids.
Jesus, not my experience as a counselor… none of my stock, even good words… nothing from my training matters at this point. Except… except remembering you. The weariness and the burden I bear today is for these very friends, and I …