We are utterly dependent on God. The prayer of the disciple is rightly characterized by an acknowledgment of God’s strength and our weakness.
Boy, that’s an uncomfortable place to be – completely dependent. Wholly in need. Entirely devoid of any real self-sufficiency. But that’s who we are, whether we recognize it or not. And prayer is one of the best places to recognize our need.
If you think about it, that’s really what we are doing every time we pray for anything to happen at all. When we pray, we are by the very nature of prayer, recognizing our inability to affect any kind of real change. We pray for someone to have their eyes opened to the gospel – Why? Because we can’t open their eyes. We pray for healing for someone in our lives – Why? Because we can’t heal them. We ask for God’s divine intervention in life, and when we do, we are recognizing that we are utterly incapable of doing anything about that situation.
But still… it’s uncomfortable. Because when we acknowledge our need, we are also throwing ourselves before the One who is not in need. That’s when it gets really tough, because there is, I think, this nagging notion at the base of our hearts that wonders just how God will respond to our needs.
But there is one word that fells those doubts and fears. It’s the one word that Jesus taught us should begin our prayers. It’s the word that reminds us that God will not cast us away when we come to Him in our poverty:
Not Lord. Not Master. Not Yahweh. But Father. Now let that sink deeply into your soul.
In that one word, we are reminded of the greatness of the gospel. The gospel that tells us that though we were once strangers and enemies of God, we have been not only forgiven but adopted into the family of the most high.
That we have received assurance, based on the down payment of the Holy Spirit, that God is never going to put us out of His house.
That though we are wretchedly dependent on Him for anything and everything, we can know that He never grows tired of providing. Indeed, He takes great joy in meeting the needs of His children.
That one single word runs throughout our request and throughout our prayers. Even as we struggle to learn to pray, even as our prayers are self-centered and short-lived, even as our prayers fail so miserably to mirror that of Jesus.
That our Father, in His grace, has provided for us not just in answering our prayers, but in the prayers itself. That our Father knows our weakness in this spiritual discipline. He is well acquainted with our heavy eyes and wandering minds. And in this, too, He has provided. Romans 8 reminds us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, serving as our divine translator, when we don’t know what we ought to pray for. And that the Holy Spirit prays with groans of such deep emotion and longing that our own tears pale in comparison. That He intercedes according to the will of God when we pray for things that we think are for our good but are really for our detriment.
That God, as our Father, has gone even further. Not only has He welcomed us into His family, not only has He given us the Holy Spirit as the translator of our prayers, He has also positioned His Son as our intercessor. Amazingly, even now, as we are learning to pray, Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father praying for us. That is astounding to consider. That when we pray we are entering into an ongoing relationship between the members of the Trinity whereby we pray to the Father, the prayers are interpreted by the Spirit, and Jesus is lifting us up interceding on our behalf.
Father. That’s who we pray to. And we always will.