Today is a day when it’s hard to pray.
I generally have three kind of prayers.
First, there are some prayers I pray almost absently; it doesn’t take any energy or specific focus. Next, there are the kind of prayers I pray that take intentionality, focusing for a moment to direct my heart heavenward. I pray these in the car or in the office; as I go through the day.
Then, there are some prayers that are so deeply entrenched in my heart that to bring them before God is like turning myself inside out and giving my very heart over to God. These are the kind of prayers I can’t pray without engaging my whole being; without emptying my very soul.
Today is a day when the prayers on my heart are the third kind of prayers, and that makes it hard to pray. I can’t seem to find the emotional capacity.
On days like this I am thankful for two things:
1. Community. I am so thankful to have friends who are standing in the gap. Even now, as I sit exhausted, they are praying for me to have strength to pray. As I find myself empty of all but the frailest of faith, they are praying for Him to help my unbelief. In those moments where I don’t have the capacity to empty out my heart, they are praying for God to grant me the grace to trust Him with all that I am.
I am so thankful for them. I am so thankful to know that my prayers are reaching the ears of God through the mouths of His saints. With the strength I do have, I continue to pray for Him to incline His ear to their prayers even when my mouth is too weak to speak.
2. Jesus. My friends are not the only ones petitioning the throne on my behalf. I am grateful that Jesus not only rose from the dead but that He lives now at the right hand of the Father, making my requests known to the Majesty on high.
It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end. (Berkhoff, Systematic Theology p. 403)
Because I am bought by His blood and wrapped in His righteousness, He Himself lives to intercede for me. He is my strong and perfect plea in Heaven above. He sympathizes with my frailty and He explains my weakness to the Father.
Jesus knows what it is like to pray these kind of prayers. He knows what it is like to be filled with words and desires that require more than an absent word tossed heavenward; they require the unraveling of your very soul.
Because of my Jesus, I will draw near the throne of God with confidence that I will find the mercy and grace I need to even begin to pray.
This is surely a great gospel in which we stand.