My wife and I were driving home with our kids late one night and somehow the radio in our car landed on one of those nightime radio shows where ladies call in and dedicate Celine Dion songs to their old high school flame that they haven’t seen in 13 years. The host of the show always talks in a real soothing voice.
The conversation we listened to went a little something like this.
“Let’s go to Kelly from Omaha.”
“Yes, I want to request a song for my boyfriend.”
“Mmmmkay. What’s his name?”
“You love him a lot, don’t you Kelly?”
“Yes. I think about him all day long.”
“How old are you?”
At this point, the host’s voice stopped being so soothing and took on more of a scolding tone.
“Shouldn’t you be thinking about school instead?”
“Yes but I can’t help it. I love him.”
And then the slow love song comes on.
About two seconds into the song, my five-year-old son said, “Man, this is terrible.”
I’ve never been so proud.
But here’s my problem. I’m sure that “Kelly” really liked this “Stuart” guy and it’s awful nice of her to go to the trouble of calling the boring love station they play at the bank and asking them to play a boring love song in his honor. But Kelly, if you’re reading this, Stuart wasn’t listening. No 15-year-old boy listens to the nighttime love song show. Well, at least not the kind you would want to date.
It’s easy for some Christians to think or act as though prayer works this way. Our lack of prayer is evidence that we fear no one is listening.
The Bible tells a different story. When a Christian prays, the Trinity is at work.
Even the holiest and best educated among us doesn’t really know how to pray. That’s what Paul says in Romans 8:26. But he also says that the Holy Spirit, “helps us in our weakness” by taking our prayers to the Father “with groanings too deep for words.”
When you pray, the Holy Spirit is at work on your behalf.
And when we pray, we are not alone. I know that I have a bunch of people who pray for me. Just a few minutes before I started writing this my wife told me that she was praying for me. I never get tired of hearing that. But in Romans 8:34, Paul tells me something even better. Jesus is praying for me.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Sometimes friends on Facebook will post prayer requests. The responses are usually the same. “I’m praying.” But there’s always that one person that says something like, “Sending good thoughts and energy your way.”
Good thoughts and energy? That’s sort of like last week’s losing lottery ticket. Thanks for nothing but I’ve got Jesus praying for me.
And it’s not that Jesus is praying for me to have a good day and to make new friends. For one thing, his prayers assure my ultimate victory over my enemy. The Bible calls Satan our accuser. We don’t know all of the details of how this plays out for us today but there are times in the Bible when we see Satan approaching Heaven with intentions of hurting God’s people (Job in Job 1-2 and Peter in Luke 22:31). If my accuser ever approaches God regarding me, my Savior and Lord quickly sends him away.
After Jesus informed Peter of Satan’s request, he said, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
As if all of this wasn’t enough, it is the death of Christ that takes away my condemnation and allows me to approach God the Father in prayer.
When you pray, you are not alone. Jesus has already been praying for you.
Finally, at the other end of my prayer, there is a Father who is actively listening. He promises to give wisdom generously when we ask in faith (James 1:5-6), he delights in giving us more and more of his kingdom (Luke 12:32) and he graciously forgives his children (Psalm 51), just to name a few things.
When we pray to our Father, we do so through the blood of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Someone is listening.
Someone is with us.
Someone is helping us.
We are not alone.