Charles Stanley - Our Helper In Prayer
When you pray, do you pray with a sense of confidence that God is listening and that He's gonna answer your prayer. Or do you pray with this cloud of doubt over you thinking, "More than likely, He's not listening. Probably not gonna answer my prayer. And you walk away sort of in disgust or at least very discouraged". When you come to Him in prayer do you think? My words are just ricocheting off the ceiling and the walls. I'm not getting anywhere. I might as well quit. Or do you have this overwhelming sense of confidence? My loving Heavenly Father's listening. He loves me, He cares for me, He's interested in me, He hears my plea, He's going to answer my prayer. Probably most people would fall in the category of those who are not very satisfied about their prayer life. Lots of lack of anticipation, lack of faith, wavering faith, cloudy faith, discouraged.
And I think that's one of the reasons many people don't pray. And if you'll think about it, the most powerful, listen, the most powerful tool in our hand so to speak. The most powerful privilege that you and I have, the most awesome privilege is to be able to talk to a loving Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally, who is omniscient, knows everything, omnipotent has all power to be able to talk to Him and know in our heart that we couldn't even begin to ask Him for anything that He couldn't do. And yet in spite of all that, we fret and we fume and we criticize. We live discouraged, negative attitude. When we have the power to tap into the most awesome power in existence, that's the power of the God Most High. Let me ask you a question. Why don't you pray more than you do? Are you telling me you don't have time? There's no such thing. If you said, God, if You'd just give me a little time, I'd pray. He may lay you out for about two weeks and give you plenty of time to talk with Him. It's not a question of not having the time to pray. The question is, Do I even think I need it? And do I love Him enough?
You see, what we miss is this. We have the idea that talking to the Father, talking to God, praying to Him we come to Him when we have some need. That's not the issue at all about this. That's not the purpose of it all. Suppose the only time your husband or your wife wanted to talk with you and have anything to say is when they need something. You wouldn't call that love. You wouldn't call that intimacy. In fact, you'd call that a very, very poor relationship which probably wouldn't last. How do you think God feels who has saved you from all your sin? Who meets all your needs. Who desires the best for you. Who's planned the best for you. And the only time you want to talk to Him is when you have some need. What about relationship? The Christian life isn't about just getting my needs met, the Christian life's all about a relationship. It's a personal intimate relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.
That's what this is all about. The Christian life is all about a growing intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus. And yet often times, that's the last thing we have in mind. Then we wonder why our prayers aren't answered. Wonder why our prayer life is just a big mess. Why it's so confusing. Well, what I want to do in this message, I want to help you understand why it doesn't have to be confusing anymore. Lot of those reasons that you have given not to pray, you can lay all of those aside, because there's an awesome promise in the Word of God that should encourage every single person who prays in every way. And I believe that if you'll listen carefully and apply this simple principle, God will do something about your prayer life. One thing I know, when something happens to your prayer life, something happens to you. Something is gonna happen to everything about you.
So let me just begin by asking you this one question. When is the last time you got by yourself, and spent ten minutes on your knees talking to God the Father? I'm not talking about praying, going down the expressway, or sitting at your computer, or between programs on television. I'm talking about the fact that you have a desire to get alone with your Heavenly Father and talk to Him and listen to him. When did you ever spend ten long minutes? Because to some people, after a minute it's all over. What I want you to see is this, we're talking about a relationship. Very important we understand that's what prayers all about. So, I want you to turn if you will to Romans chapter eight. And in this eighth chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul has been talking about suffering and so forth. But he's also been talking about the work and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
And one of the things he says about the work of the Holy Spirit, he says, for example, the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. He's the one by which we have the power to lay aside sin. And He's the one who bears witness in our life that we're the sons and daughters of Almighty God. Then he comes to this twenty-sixth verse, which is a familiar verse, and here's what he says: "In the same way the Holy Spirit also helps our weakness; now what weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words". What does he mean by that? "And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God". Now we all know this next verse, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose".
So, what I want us to look at for a moment is I want us to see who our helper is in prayer. And we all need help in our prayer life. And listen to what he says. He says in the same way the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, helps our weakness for we don't know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Now, every single believer has indwelling us the Holy Spirit who is there for the primary responsibility of helping us, in every area of life, specifically here in the area of our prayer life. He is a person of the Trinity, therefore omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. He is available sixty seconds out of every minute, twenty-four hours a day, for the rest of your life.
We have God living on the inside of us, available to us, at every single moment, with all the power, all the wisdom that we need to know what to ask and how to ask it. Sent by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, specifically and personally to help us. So that, as Paul relates here to prayer, when you and I come to pray, we don't have to feel like I'm all by myself. No, we never pray alone. You may pray by yourself but you're never alone. And so we have the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Helper, but what does He do? He sits at the Father's right hand, the Holy Spirit lives on the inside of us and so while the Lord Jesus is doing something at the Father's right hand, the Holy Spirit is doing something on the inside of us which we'll explain in just a moment.
Now, so let's think about this. How does the Holy Spirit, how is He our helper in prayer? Well, the first thing, the first way He helps us is that He's the one who burdens us to pray. Have you not, for example, felt at times this, this need? You couldn't explain, this need to pray. I just need to get alone with the Lord. You felt burdened to pray. You didn't call it that but that's what was going on. The Spirit of God was convicting you. He was, He was stirring up your spirit. He was moving you. He was trying to get your attention. He wanted you to get alone with the Father because, listen, because He knows what you're about to face. He knows what's about to happen in your life. He knows an oncoming need in your life. He knows about a temptation that's right around the corner. He knows that you're heading in the wrong direction. He knows that you're about to stumble over something.
And so, what does He do? He burdens you to talk to the Father. He wants you to begin to seek the Father because He, listen, He wants you to get direction. Don't go in that direction. He wants you to lay it down lest it destroy you. He wants you to pick it up because it's the Father's plan. He wants you to, to give yourself in this area because God wants to do something special in your life. It is the Holy Spirit who burdens you to pray. That's why, listen, when you sense a need or desire to pray, the last thing you want to do is to turn that off, get busy, do something else because what you are doing is, you are committing a sin.
You say, "Well now what's a sin about that"? Very simple, quench not the Spirit. First Thessalonians chapter five, quench not, that is don't stifle and strangle the Spirit's voice in your life. So, when you sense a need, a desire, you're troubled in your heart and you think, Well, Lord. And you know, listen. How many times do I say this? And I say this over and over and over again so it gets etched in your mind, photographed in your mind. Whenever you're facing anything, this is always the key question. Father, what is Your goal for this circumstance in my life? Instantly we go to Him. Instead of calling our friends, trying to manipulate the circumstances and figure it all out for ourself, remember, you have a person of the Trinity living on the inside of you who is, listen, available at that moment to, listen, to get you in, listen, to get you in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Father so that whatever that need is it's going to be met.
Now, let's think about specifically how all this takes place in our life. First of all, we say He burdens us. Because He knows exactly what we need. And isn't this an expression of God's love, knowing that something's coming around the corner that you need to be prepared for. And what does He do? He gets you stirred up, you don't know what's going on and somehow you think, "Well, something's getting ready to happen. I don't know what. Lord, I want You to strengthen me, get me very sensitive. Lord, make me very sensitive to what's going on around me". If there's some temptation and God knows it's coming, what will He do? He will stir your heart, your mind and prod you to become super-sensitive to your surroundings. What you hear, those who talk to you, those who try to influence you lest you be deceived by something. He burdens our heart. He's the one, for example who will burden us to pray for someone else. He sees someone else's condition.
And have you ever felt all of a sudden, this strong burden to pray for somebody who may be a hundred miles away or down the street or across a town, or five hundred or a thousand miles away? How many times in all these years of ministry people have called me and said, What were you doing last week at so and so? And I'd have to think, Well what was I doing? Or, they would say, Are you going through a tough time? Are you hurting about something? I say, Well how did you know? Yesterday I just felt so burdened to pray for you. What was that? Here's what that was, that was the Spirit of God who saw my need and saw someone and knows someone who is available and thinks enough of me to pray for me, He burdened them to pray for me. This is awesome, wonderful triangle of prayer. So, first of all, He burdens us. He burdens us to pray for people, for things, situations, circumstances in our own life. The second thing He does is what He primarily speaks of in this passage is that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
Now look at this passage. "In the same way, the Holy Spirit also helps our weakness. How does He do that? We don't know how to pray as we should. So, He intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words". What in the world is a groaning, too deep for words? Well, here's what He's talking about. There are times when you and I, let's say for example that we're hurt, we're deeply hurt. Our heart's torn apart. We are hurt so deeply we can't even pray. You say, Well now you shouldn't, nobody should be so hurt you can't pray. Then you've never been hurt. You can be so hurt you don't know what to say. You don't know how to pray. You can be in a circumstance in which you are absolutely totally helpless you don't know what to ask for. You can be so deeply hurt the only thing you can do is groan. Oh, God help me. You don't even tell Him how you want Him to help you. You don't know the answer. You don't know the solution. You don't know what to tell Him.
And so the truth is, there's groaning in our spirit. "Oh God, um-m-m, Lord, help me through this". Then there are people for example who are in physical pain. And they hurt so badly they can't pray. You say, Well now I don't, I don't believe you can hurt that bad. Then you haven't been hurt physically enough. You can hurt so bad physically you don't even want to pray. Is that a sin? No, it is the physiologic, is it is a physiological response of the human body that you can't concentrate. You, the pain is so strong, so deep, so penetrating. Then there are times when we don't know what to ask. We got two alternatives or three and we have three opportunities and God, I don't know, they all look alike. Lord, God, Lord show me the truth. We don't know how to ask, we don't know whether to say now this is the one I want. They all look equally as good, then what happens? We groan in our spirit. And what he's groanings are sighs.
Oh, God! What do I do? How do I respond? Lord, show me through. Don't let me make a mistake. We don't know how to pray. There's nothing sinful about that. There's all of a sudden, we're in a situation we either can't pray, we don't know what to ask. We don't know, we don't know which way to turn. "God, I'm just throwing myself upon Your mercy, God. Help me Lord, strengthen me Father, God help me! You hear suddenly one of your children killed in an accident. You don't go to the Father and say, Heavenly Father, in Jesus' name, I just want You to help me through this". No, you know what? You're so ripped and torn asunder inside of you all you can do is weep and cry out to God. What do you say? Bring him back to life again? No. What do you say? Now Lord just to help me to get ahold of myself. No, you know what happens? You cry, you weep, you cry out to God. What are you crying? You know what? You couldn't even tell me what you cried out to God. You just cried out to God. You didn't even know what to say.
Now, these are the groanings, these are the sighs. It's not that the Holy Spirit is groaning for something, but what He's doing He's taking our groanings, our sighs, our inadequacy to express ourself and what is He doing? Now watch this carefully. Are you listening? Say amen. He is lifting to the Father the exact perfect accurate interpretation of what you and I are feeling that we, even ourselves cannot explain. Look what He says: "He who searches the hearts, that is God, knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God". The Holy Spirit, listen, knows exactly what we are feeling that we can't even express. So, what does He do? He intercedes. An intercessor is one who pleads in behalf of someone else. He brings to the Father exactly what you and I are crying. He brings to the Father exactly what our request is. If we even knew, listen, we don't know how to say it.
Listen, there are times when there are no words that express what you feel deep down inside. Woman walks in, she says, My husband just walked out. I've got four little children. I'm devastated. She's so hurt, so full of pain, so wrought on the inside. She doesn't even know how to respond. The Spirit of God knows exactly what our feelings are. The strongest, the deepest, the weakest emotion He knows perfectly. Listen carefully. That's why God, the Lord Jesus Christ, had to send somebody like Him who would fully understand like He did. I'm sending another just like Me. That's what He said. He intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Here's what He's saying. He's going to ask the Father to meet our need that fits God's plan, purpose, and desires for us. All of us have desires at times that are not best.
So, when we say, Now Lord, here's the desire of my heart. Fine. Sometime it's exactly what God wants. It may be a little off base. What does He do? He hears us, humanly speaking, He massages that, turn's it into what's right. Makes the presentation and that's why I said to you, He says, Yes! Wait, I've got something better because I know what you really need. I know what you really want, and I know what really fits my plan and what fits my plan is gonna absolutely fantastically make you joyously happy. That's the kind of God we have. He's not a God who's sitting up there, See if you can get through. He's not that kind of God. That's why we call Him, Father. Unconditionally loving Father. He intercedes and what He means by intercession is just what we've spoken of there.
Now, not only that, but let me just say this. Somebody says, Well, what about that verse in Ephesians about praying in the Spirit? What does that mean? Listen carefully. It has nothing to do with tongues. It has to do with praying in the awareness of the presence of God, in dependence upon the Living God, relying upon Him, acknowledging my absolute total submission to Him. That's what praying in the Spirit's all about. And so, the Holy Spirit helps us by motivating us, burdening us to pray, lifting our petition, interpreting it properly, and then beginning to work in our life to bring us into agreement with what God wants to give us. That's the way He operates. That is His purpose. Not only that, He also reveals to us what our real needs are.
And so when you and I pray and we don't get what we ask for and we say, God, I really want what You want and this is my prayer. And I've had to pray this a thousand times, God, here's what I want. But if what I want is not what You want, You change my wanta so that what You want will be what I want. Well, that's His goal. What did He say His goal was? His goal in interceding for us is to lead us into the will of God for our life so that what God has planned for us, what He's provided for us, what He has stored up for us, He's available to give us because now we're in agreement with Him about what He wants to do and we know that this was the need and this is the desire of my heart. Thank You, Father. He can turn your frustrated prayer life into a fantastic experience with Him. So, think about this for a moment.
The most powerful thing you can ever do is to pray. You can touch anybody on the face of this globe and in space through prayer, because all of that's in the presence of God. It's the most powerful thing you can do for someone. When somebody says to me, I'm praying for you. I say to them, or they'll say, Can I do something for you? Yes, you can pray for me that God will give me wisdom and the spirit of obedience to walk with Him daily. And the power of the Holy Spirit to do what He's called me to do, period. You don't have to give me anything else, just do that for me and I will be very grateful.
And there are people who say, I pray for you every day. Greatest asset you have in life, second to none, is someone who prays for you every day and someone who knows how to talk to the Father. And if you want to get your prayer life strengthened, let God burden you to pray for someone or some situation that looks just about impossible. Watch God work! You see, every answered prayer is one more block in my foundation in my faith that God is faithful, He will do exactly what He says He will do. When your prayer life gets right, you're gonna get right. And I simply want to ask you this question. When is the last time you spent even, I'm coming down now, even five minutes alone with the Father, talking to Him, listening to Him, uninterrupted, undistracted, just you and the Father? He wants a relationship.
Let me ask you this, is He worthy of a relationship? Yes! Does He deserve it? Yes! Can you give me a good reason for withholding from the Father when He's done so much for you, the one thing that He wants above everything else? Listen, God can do anything He wants to do, anywhere, anytime. He can make it happen. One thing He won't do is force your hand when it comes to a relationship. There's nobody in the whole world that can build a relationship with the Father for you. He wants it from you, by you because He loves you. The best is always ahead, always available for those who are willing to build that relationship through prayer and His precious Word.
And Father, how grateful we are that You have made this so simple that we could voice our needs, our desires, our weeping, our hurts, our pains to You and know that we have someone on the inside of us. The two of You agree, all three of You persons of the Trinity, agree one hundred percent. And that He's gonna take our petition and make it something that is acceptable in Your sight, which will give You the privilege of blessing us and making us the godly men and women you want us to be. I pray the Holy Spirit will speak today to someone who is lost, someone who's never trusted You as Savior to help them understand they, they've got to go it alone. They can't bypass the Holy Spirit and Jesus and come to You. And therefore, the most important step in their life is the surrender of their life to You. Trusting You, Lord Jesus as their personal Savior. Your death at Calvary paid their sin-debt in full, and to be willing to accept that as a reality and You as their Savior, making them a child of God and now indwelt by the Holy Spirit and available to talk with You, Father. We thank You for the awesome power of prayer. And pray that the Holy Spirit will have our wills totally surrendered so that everything You want to do in us and through us for others, You'll have one hundred percent access, in Jesus's name, amen.