Sometimes you just don’t know what to pray. You’re too confused about the situation to know what ask for; you’re too in the dark to understand the details; or every time you start to pray the thoughts bring up so much pain it’s just too hard to find the words.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness…
God’s Spirit helps us through those times of weakness. If you’ve ever had kids you remember those times when a child of yours was so overwrought with emotion and crying so hard, he or she just couldn’t get the words out. It might have been something serious. It might have been something petty. Whatever it was, for that child in that moment it was earth shattering. You may not have understood the need at the time. All you could do was hug that child and hold onto them until they could calm down enough to say what was on their heart.
God never fails to understand what is on our heart. He understands our need even when we don’t. How many times in the gospels did someone ask the Lord something, and He went straight past the question and answered the need? In John 4:46-52 “a certain nobleman whose son was sick” (4:46) came to Jesus “and besought [begged] him that he would come down and heal his son” (v. 47). Jesus refused. He did not refuse to heal the man’s son. He refused to go the man’s house. The man thought Jesus needed to come to his house to heal his son. That’s what he prayed for. Jesus saw that his real need was faith that Jesus is God and as God, His power and authority are limitless. When the man trusted the Lord and obeyed, his faith was rewarded. His son was healed (John 4:52) but more importantly, the man “himself believed, and his whole house” (4:53).
God knows my need even if I don’t, and His Spirit does the interceding for me when my own words fail. When Paul penned Romans 8, it was after he had described himself as conflicted man with a tortured soul: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Romans 7:24)? In describing himself, he described every believer. The Spirit of God abides in us, crying Abba, Father and at the same time our old sin nature (what the Bible calls the flesh) is warring against the Spirit. It is a confusing mess at times. Add to that the changes and challenges that life has a way of just throwing at you and the fact that our own choices can throw gasoline on an already raging fire, being at loss for words in times of prayer is understandable.
So, it’s OK if when you come to God all you can do is sigh because the words just won’t come. “His Spirit helps us in our weakness.”