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When We Don’t Know What To Pray For, We Remember…

We’ve all been there. Depressed. Sick. Sad. Fearful. Desperate. Without energy. With baggage. In trouble. Out of luck. Nowhere to turn. Everywhere in doubt.

We pray. We pray harder, longer. We plead with the Father, because we’re at the end of our rope. But nothing. No nudge. No direction. We’re back to where we started. We’re in such bad shape that we don’t know what to pray for. But we keep praying, hoping for an answer, a break, a sign, a light, something.

Have you ever been so broken or overwhelmed that you make a deep, almost inaudible sound?

When struggling like this, remember the Holy Spirit. Why? Because in Romans 8:26-27 (NIV), we find these words: “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.” In some translations, “wordless groans” are said to be groans or groanings “too deep for words.”

When we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit takes over. He intercedes with God for our deepest needs. Depending on the translation of the Bible one uses, the Spirit is known as Helper, Advocate, Counsellor, or Comforter in John 15:26. When we come to the point of being hopeless, we need the Spirit to be all of these things.

Yes, we’ve all been there. But we are not alone. What seems to be the most mysterious being in the Trinity is also there, making groans that we cannot hear or understand. But God hears them and understands them. We should take comfort, for our advocate is praying on our behalf. He is providing help that we need but cannot provide ourselves.

2 comments… add one
  • Ellis Thomas March 10, 2016, 1:49 PM

    This post had me going straight to Psalm 40: 1-3. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a new hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” How awesome that our God lifts us up and plants us on solid ground. It is never easy, and I sure have to remind myself a lot when I’m going through a rough bought, but how assuring it is to know that the Lord placed whatever struggle I might be dealing with in my path for a purpose (“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21). Trusting that the Lord knows exactly what he’s doing (‘”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”‘), that he IS good is what sets me free, especially when I feel in such bondage to my struggles.

    • John B. Phillips March 10, 2016, 3:48 PM


      Every time you post a comment, I realize that you are the one who should be writing this blog. The passages from Psalms and Proverbs are beautiful and powerful. I just may borrow them and your points for another post. “Freedom from bondage” is a wonderful thought.


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