“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).
Agony and helplessness cloud the mind and will disrupt prayer’s proper decorum. When Jesus felt the weight of His pending baptism of suffering, His thrice-repeated prayer was intense and brief: “O Abba, My Father, all things are possible for Thee. Let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39/Mark14:36/Luke 22:42).
Unlike we who fail to pray as we ought under circumstances of duress, Jesus did not. His brief prayer—succinct yet sufficient—has all the ingredients of prayer’s essentials. Therefore, praying as we ought includes:
Profound reverence—“O My Father”
Unshakable conviction of God’s immense paternal concern—“Abba”
Unwavering trust in God’s unfathomable omnipotence—“all things are possible for You”
No-holds-barred honesty—“Let this cup pass from Me”
Genuine submission—“nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt”
On these occasions when our pain overwhelms our attention to prayer’s protocols and we—unlike our sinless elder brother—do not pray as we ought, the Spirit Himself helps in our weakness and makes intercession for us according to God’s will.
This glorious provision ought not encourage a practice of sloppiness in prayer; rather, it ought to engender a heart bursting with praise: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name”, because “as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:1, 13-14).