Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pages from a preacher's prayer book (2)

The value of weakness
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom 8: 26,27

So often books on prayer seem to focus on the human aspect – all the things we must do in order to make prayer work. But the best part of prayer is what God is doing. At the same time as Jesus Christ intercedes, seated in glory, the Holy Spirit encounters us at places of weakness.

People expect us to be continually positive, fresh and assured in our public spirituality. After all we are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor 5:11). We may conclude that any signs of spiritual weakness deny God’s power in our lives. Wrong! Spiritual weakness actually opens the way for God’s power in our lives. Spiritual weakness opens the door to deeper prayer. Weakness is valuable. It makes prayer real.

Preachers who claim to have all the answers and are never at loss in prayer betray shallow prayer lives. But preachers, who know their unholiness and weakness, are realists with God who reads their hearts, knows their desires and interprets them in prayers too deep for words.

It’s true - out of weakness there is strength, (2 Cor. 12:10). Treasure comes in jars of clay “so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). In God’s kingdom everything is reversed - greatness is service and weakness is strength.

Preachers should never be surprised that when they feel their efforts are least effective, God may use them mightily. It’s as though, precisely when we despair for our own glory, He takes it for His! As we hobble along in spiritual weakness God promises strength.

Prayer: O triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, over everything and in everything, help me to be real with you. You read my heart and know my mixed motives and spiritual weakness, yet also my desire to be deeper with you. Grant me, when I cannot find words, to keep trusting and to know how much I belong to you in your strength. Amen.

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