Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reaching Up

I see little children reaching up with their hands to their mothers, eager to get their attention. It reminds me of my own poor efforts to reach up to God in prayer. My infirmity lies in knowing the exact thing for which I ought to pray.

I’m comforted by Paul’s words: “The Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

The Apostle’s verb, “helps,” means, “to join in an activity or effort.” God’s Spirit is joined to ours when we pray. He prays along with us “with inexpressible groans;” he sighs often as he prays. He cares for the things we care about; his heart is burdened by our concerns.

More important for me, he prays, “according to God’s will” (Romans 8:27). He knows all the right words to say.

Therefore, I needn’t worry too much about getting my requests exactly right. I only need to reach up, longing for God’s will to be done, knowing that His Spirit will turn my infirmity into prayer. That old Scot, George MacDonald, put it well,

What though my words glance sideways from the thing
Which I would utter in Thine ear, my sire!
Truth in the inward parts Thou dost desire—
Wise hunger, not a fitness fine of speech:
The little child that clamouring fails to reach
With upstretched hand the fringe of her attire,
Yet meets the mother's hand down hurrying.

—George MacDonald


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