The Prayer I Meant to Pray
By zak lantz
February 6, 2012
My prayer life is pretty hot and cold—and by hot and cold, I meansometimes I go weeks without intentionally praying to God, andother times I get frustrated that He’s not immediately answering mypetty prayers. There really is no in-between for me. Most days, I’m pretty good at praying for friends or family who are indire situations, and I'm always quick to ask God for forgiveness when Igoof up. But to be quite honest with you, and with Him, I still suck atpraying.
I’ve read the New Testament many times, and one thing continually frustrates me: Jesus was a much better prayer than I am.
First of all, Jesus would routinely go off and pray alone, in the wilderness, for long amounts of time. My prayer life is typically jammed into the 45 seconds after I wake upbefore I jump out of bed and decide I need to shower and get ready formy busy day. Or, it gets crammed into commercial breaks of my favoritesports talk shows. There is no escaping to pray—and there are no lengthy periods of timewhere I enjoy my Father’s presence and take in His wisdom for my heart.
It's tempting to think: "Well, Jesus was God-made-flesh, right? So, He’s supposed to do things weweren’t able to, right? He lived a perfect life, and we can’t do that.This is probably just one of those deals."
Unfortunately for us, Scripture seems to say otherwise. Every time Jesus took His disciples somewhere to pray, I believe He expected them to pray, too. The Garden of Gethsemane comes to mind, especially as it’s one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. He asks His disciples to look out for him—and I believe thisincludes praying for Him—as He goes forward on His own and praysHimself. They’re worn out and tired, and can’t keep their eyes open (I can relate to that), but Jesus doesn’t take that as a good excuse. He’s upset; His words even sound as if He is hurt when they can’t stay awake.
Jesus was much better at His method of prayer than I could ever be.But it’s not just that. The content of His prayers blows me away too. Listen to the words He utters in that famous Gethsemane prayer: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. … My Father, ifit is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, mayYour will be done.”Let's compare to my typical prayer: “Hey. God. It’s me, Zak. Could you please send me asign that you still love me? I’m feeling a bit self-conscious today. Also, a wife would be cool. And maybe some money, so I can afford togive some back to you. Thanks, peace.”
Jesus’ prayer is so different, it shocks and amazes me. His prayer ends, “May Your will be done,” and mine ends, “Could you please just do it my way?”
But in Paul’s letter to the Romans, we readan interesting verse that says there may be hope for us yet. It even explains why sometimes we’re disappointed at the results of ourprayers.
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know whatwe ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us throughwordless groans" (Romans 8:26).
The translation I memorized one summer at camp said,“ ... intercedes for us with groans that words simply could not express.”
What a powerful gift for those who receive the blessing of salvation. When the Spirit rushes upon us, He's got our back in our prayer lives. When I don’t know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes on my behalf withthe Father, finishing my prayers—and I believe that His prayer is sooften, “Father, may your will be done.”
Without even knowing it, because the Spirit intercedes for me, my prayers are ending with “but Thy will be done.”
Asking for more money, more material blessings, more spiritualblessings—all of those prayers should be offensive to the God who haspoured out unending blessings upon us already. But because of theSpirit’s intercession for us, we don’t have to worry when we don’t knowwhat to pray for. We just have to trust that, in "Hiswill be done," God is offering what is best for us.
I know I should be praying more—for more forgiveness, morehumility, more desire to be like Him. But I also know the Spirit is constantly interceding with the Father on my behalf for these things.Its work is ever-present, and ever-powerful in my life, and for that, I am truly thankful.