December 12, 2020

What If You Can’t Pray?

Romans 8:22-28

We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us. . . .

—  Romans 8:26

As a pastor, I have sometimes heard members of the church say, “I can’t even pray anymore.” When people are depressed or physically run down or overwhelmed by grief, they can sometimes find it impossible to pray.

Perhaps you’ve had times in your life when you simply did not have the strength to pray. If so, don’t worry. God loves you, and he knows exactly how you feel; he understands why you can’t pray. He knows what’s happening in your life.

What’s more, as Paul writes in Romans 8, “The Spirit [of God] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us.” And in the same chapter we read that “Christ Jesus . . . is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). So our Lord and God, who loves us, has us covered. When we can’t pray, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus are praying for us. Don’t be afraid to admit that you can’t pray. Ask a family member or friend to pray with you or for you, even if it’s on the phone. During the past year, on several occasions, I have prayed with one of my sisters when she found it difficult or even impossible to pray. Sometimes the Holy Spirit may even use us to pray for people who cannot pray.

Holy Spirit, thank you for praying for us when we find it impossible to pray. Please pray for us each day and help us to remember that you and Jesus pray for us. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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