Stewards of Prayer
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.Romans 8:18-27 NIV
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
As stewards we have both the privilege and the responsibility to pray for others and for ourselves. Prayer is not a gift to be taken lightly or used irreverently, says stewardship writer Luther E. Lovejoy (1864-1936).
The power of prayer is a most sobering responsibility. It is a stewardship for which we must render a strict account. We may not handle lightly this grave trust, as innocent children handle sharp-edged tools, or careless workman high explosives! For to the Christian disciple is given the duty not only to pray, and to pray for worth-while objects, to pray for fellow men, but to prevail in prayer. ‘Render an account of your stewardship’ is as applicable to prayer as to money or time. What have you done with the power of prayer? It was given you as spiritual capital, with which to achieve, to produce, to create.
And we have a powerful helper in the Holy Spirit. Pastor and devotional writer E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) expounds on the Holy Spirit’s role of intercession, as discussed in Romans 8.
This text is most pregnant and vital, and needs to be quoted. “Patience, hope, and waiting help us in prayer. But the greatest and the most divine of all helpers is the Holy Spirit. He takes hold of things for us. We are dark and confused, ignorant and weak in many things, in fact in everything pertaining to the Heavenly life, especially in the simple service of prayer. There is an ‘ought’ on us, an obligation, a necessity to pray, a spiritual necessity upon us of the most absolute and imperative kind. But we do not feel the obligation and have no ability to meet it. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, gives wisdom in our ignorance, turns ignorance into wisdom, and changes our weakness into strength. The Spirit himself does this. He helps and takes hold with us as we tug and toil. He adds his wisdom to our ignorance, gives his strength to our weakness. He pleads for us and in us. He quickens, illumines, and inspires our prayers. He invites and elevates the matter of our prayers, and inspires the words and feelings of our prayers. He works mightily in us so that we can pray mightily. He enables us to pray always and ever according to the will of God!”
The Spirit, when he prays through us, or helps us to meet the mighty ‘oughtness’ of right praying, trims our praying down to the will of God, and then we give heart and expression to his unutterable groanings. Then we have the mind of Christ, and pray as he would pray. His thoughts, purposes, and desires are our desires, purposes, and thoughts! It is the unfolding of the word by the Spirit’s light, guidance, teaching and enabling us to perform the great office of intercessors on earth, in harmony with the great intercessions of Jesus Christ at the Father’s right hand in Heaven.