Warren Vanhetloo on prayer

Romans 8:26, 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

Query: Dear Dr. Van, Can you comment on what is involved when the Holy Spirit prays for us, as mentioned in Romans? It seems strange to me that He would pray to God for us when He is in God’s presence always. I even have a bit of wonder about Jesus praying to God for us. I can understand why we pray to God for each other, but this seems to be a puzzle and a mystery to me.

Answer: First, let me say that, though I don’t really understand it, I believe it. Whether I comprehend the why and how, doesn’t bother me a bit. If it were not important, it would not have been included in Scripture. That it is really very important seems clear from the expressions employed. That it is actual, rather than theoretical or fanciful, I can appreciate. That both the action and the knowledge of it are significant encouragements for me tell me that a thankful response rather than a meaningful comprehension is expected.

The wonder of it amazes me. I am glad to know that many believers remember me in prayer, both in a general way and at times for specific needs. That I am on the daily prayer list of the Son of God and the eternal Holy Spirit is almost greater than one could hope for. That They, who know life and its temptations so fully, are concerned and desire to be of help to one like me declares that my spiritual welfare and physical wellbeing, as well as that of each believer, is of concern to the eternal Three.

Some conceive of all events throughout history being cut and dried, of details of life as set and certain, based on their concept of God knowing the end from the beginning. These promises of prayer aid make clear that events of life are actually on-going. God is concerned and involved in the daily detail of each of His children. Jesus could pray for His disciples, and especially for Peter, when He was arrested in the Garden. Safety had been predicted in the Old Testament, but was urgently needed in the actual situation. God steps in to do His part in the realities of life. The walk of faith is not a presumptuous journey.

In Tibet, many prayer wheels and prayer flags supposedly carried requests to a deity who could reply. Having people pray for us is much more encouraging than knowing that a candle has been lit on our behalf. We rejoice that human prayer warriors faithfully uphold us in prayer. How much more thrilling that two of the greatest Persons in the universe are engaged in Their appointed task of praying for us! They know more about us and our needs than we can possibly know. They have greater concern for our welfare than any fellow human. It may sound trite, but I’m confident that their prayers will be answered.

One lesson may be that the Two can request, but the Father makes the decisions. Although the Persons are equal, there is a division of endeavor. Surely both the Son and the Spirit have other duties, but that They pray for us is an indication of God’s special concern for His own. If even one request by a believer is not overlooked by the Almighty, surely not a single entreaty by these two eternal Persons will be ignored. Jesus lived a life similar to our daily walk; He knows personally our peculiar needs. The Holy Spirit indwells us; He is aware of our every thought and feeling. Faster and more sure than high speed internet, Their intercessions reach the Father and His responses come back, to His glory. I’m more sure of that than I am that an email will reach its destination (which I don’t fully understand either).

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