I’m a list kinda guy. I love making To Do lists, and shopping lists, and even prayer lists. These seem to work well for my temperament, helping me stay on task and feel like I am accomplishing something.
But I’ve noticed a danger built-in to these lists. I can use the lists to remove all emotion from my activities. I suppose that might be a good thing for my To Do lists and shopping lists, but it’s a bad thing for my prayer lists.
Many times when Jesus was moved to touch someone in need, the Bible says that Jesus groaned. Look at this:
- Some people brought a man who could neither hear nor speak and asked Jesus to lay a healing hand on him. He took the man off by himself, put His fingers in the man’s ears and some spit on the man’s tongue. Then Jesus looked up in prayer, groaned mightily, and commanded, “Ephphatha!—Open up!” And it happened. (Mark 7:31-35)
- When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. (John 11:33)
- Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. (John 11:38)
I love the words of G. Morgan Campbell:
“No man can pray for the world unless the Spirit interpret to him the world’s agony, and the Spirit cannot intercede the world’s agony to any man unless that man live in the midst of the world’s agony. Not by retirement from the world, not by hiding away within a monastic institution, not by seeking to develop my own spiritual life by removing myself from the agony of the world, can I ever pray for the world; but because I live every day in the midst of its busy life, am close to it and know it, and because the Spirit of God in me leads me into the secret deepest meaning of the world’s agony and pain so that I no longer treat it as a superficial disease that can be dealt with by the nostrums of humanity, but as a great heart trouble that needs blood and sacrifice to deal with it, am I able to pray. Out of that revelation of the meaning of the world’s agony created by the Spirit in the hearts of believing men they are able to pray. The Church of God in the economy of God was created an institute of prayer.”
Are you close enough to lost and hurting humanity to hear them groan?
Are you moved by their groans?
Can you groan on their behalf? That’s how we should be praying, and then the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).