Encounter: In a quiet place open your Bibles and turn to Romans 8 and read verses 14-17 and 26-28. There are times in our prayer life when we don’t know what words to use in our prayers or if we should use a certain structure of prayer depending on the circumstance.
Apostle Paul tells us “We do not know what we ought to pray for.” Paul uses the word “we,” meaning that he is including himself, a well educated man. Like us, Paul struggled with prayer.
Within the first month of my pastorate, I received a call from a member whose husband was having heart issues and they were rushing him into surgery and was asking for me to come up and pray. I immediately jumped into my truck and began to drive to Fort Wayne.
I remember the fear I was having. I was assigned to this church without the first day of training completed. All I could do was ask God to help me to be present and to pray the right words that her husband would come through the surgery.
By the time I arrived, her husband had passed away and they were preparing the body so we could see him. Now I was no longer praying for a successful surgery, but for strength, peace, and understanding for the days ahead.
I did not know what words to use, what the appropriate prayer structure should be. All I could do was pray from my heart and rely on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me with God and with the wife and her family.
We are the children of God and He wants to hear from our heart. Jesus prayed to God by calling him “Abba.” Abba is an Aramaic word Jesus would have used to call Joseph, “father.” Jesus uses the term Abba to show an intimate relationship with God. Jesus desires that we also have this same type of intimate relationship with God.
Just as we would have an intimate relationship with our mother or father or someone who demonstrates those parental qualities, we should be working on developing the same intimate relationship with God. The Holy Spirit helps with that relationship and affirms for us to approach Abba with a true heart, helping in our prayers to God. For God knows the heart of his people and he knows the mind of the Spirit who intercedes for us.
Reflect: Take a few moments and reflect on your relationship with a mother, father or someone who has been a loving parental figure in your life. Consider the conversations you have had with them. Were those conversations from the heart? Did you receive feedback that helped you to grow regardless if you liked what you were told at that time? Have you been personal and intimate with God during your prayer times?
Spiritual Practice: There are three truths we can collect from Romans 8:14-17: God is our Abba, we are God’s beloved, and we are always prayed in. Go to a quiet place and sit upright with both of your feet on the ground. Breathe in slowly and deeply and then exhale slowly. Do this a couple of times. Then on your next inhale, start repeating the word, “Abba.” Then exhale slowly. Do this a couple of times. On your next inhale, again say Abba and on your exhale, say the words “I belong to you.” Do this a couple of times. On the next inhale repeat the word Abba and on this exhalation say “I belong to you, Your Spirit prays within me.” Do this a couple of times. This is what is called an “affirmation prayer.” Note in your journal your experience.
Gather: As you gather together in your small groups, discuss the thought of being completely open to God with your heart and the experience of trying to listen as the Holy Spirit tries to guide you in your prayers from the heart. Discuss you experience practicing the prayer of affirmation.
Praying with you,