“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26.
I think I was about 11 years old when I saw the Peanuts cartoon, with Linus quoting Romans 8:26 to Lucy, for the first time. Two things impressed me about that comic strip. The first was that rare and decisive manner in which Linus put his sister in her place. And the second was the message of the passage he quoted; we don’t even know what we should pray about. That second one has been a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
Many passages in the Bible warn us to not trust in people, even ourselves. Psalms 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.” These are just two of many verses and when placed beside Paul’s lesson, that we don’t even know what we ought to be praying for, a pattern becomes obvious and the message comes in loudly; we need help with everything.
It’s easy to be tempted to place an inflated estimation on our own wisdom and judgment. It’s easy to think that our experience and knowledge somehow give us enough of a leg up that we’re free to rely on ourselves. It’s easy to take it for granted that we know what we want, that we know what we need and that we know what’s best. But scripture’s clear, there will never be a time when it’s safe for us to to be spiritually self reliant. Even when it comes to making up a prayer list we need to ask for guidance.
But it’s unnatural for us to seek guidance for everything. Our parents and teachers worked for years upon years to mold us into independent, self reliant adults. Our pride pushes us ahead because it can’t accept that we don’t have something to offer, independent of anyone and anything else.
However, if we allow the haze of self deceit to clear out a bit, I think most of us can see clearly enough to recognize that God is right about us. We can’t trust our own judgment. Things just always work out better when we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding; and in all our ways acknowledge Him.” Proverbs 3:5, 6 (adapted).
So today let’s start by letting God write our prayer list and then everyday ask him to help us submit one more part of our lives. And let’s keep doing this everyday, until everything is so completely submitted that we, like Paul, will be able to say, “To live is Christ.”