The Source Of Power In Prayer
By Andrew Murray
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26-27).
Here we have the teaching of God regarding the help the Holy Spirit will give us in prayer. The first half of this chapter is of much importance in connection with the teaching of God’s Word regarding the Spirit.
In Romans 6 we read about being dead to sin and alive to God. In Romans 7 we read about being dead to the law and married to Christ, and also about the impotency of the unregenerate man to do God’s will. This is only a preparation to show us how helpless we are.
Then in the eighth chapter of Romans comes the blessed work of the Spirit, expressed chiefly in the following words: "The Spirit has made us free from the law of sin and death." The Spirit makes us free from the power of sin and teaches and leads us to walk after the Spirit. In our inner disposition we may become spiritually minded and enabled to mortify the deeds of the body. The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities.
Prayer is the most necessary thing in the spiritual life. Yet we do not know how to pray nor what to pray for as we ought. The Spirit, Paul tells us, prays with groanings unutterable.
Again he tells us that we ourselves often do not know what the Spirit is doing within us. But there is one, God, who searches the hearts. Words often reveal my thoughts and my wishes but not what is deep in my heart. God comes and searches what is deep and hidden and can not be seen in my heart. God knows what the unutterable longing there is in me for God.
Seeking God’s Burden
I tell you, beloved, if you will take time and let God lay the burden of the unsaved heavier upon you until you begin to feel, "I have never prayed," it will be the most blessed thing in your life.
And so with regard to the church. We want to take up our position as members of the church of Christ in this land, as belonging to that great body who can say, "Lord God, is there nothing that can be done to bless the church of this land and revive it and bring it out of its worldliness and out of its feebleness?"
We may confer together and conclude faithlessly, "No, we do not know what is to be done. We have no influence and power over all these ministers and their churches."
But on the other hand, how blessed to come to God and say, "Lord, we do not know what to ask. You know what to give." The Holy Spirit could pray a hundredfold more in us if we were only conscious of our ignorance and our impotence in prayer. May God bring us to say, "Lord, we can not pray. We do not know what prayer is." Of course some of us do know in a measure what prayer is and we thank God for what He has been to us in answer to prayer. But oh, it is only a little beginning compared to what the Holy Spirit of God teaches.
Our first thought is our ignorance. "We know not what we should pray for as we ought"; but "the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Worship and Fellowship
There are different phases of prayer. There is worship when a man just bows down to adore the great God. We do not take time to worship. We need to worship in secret, just to get ourselves face to face with the everlasting God that He may overshadow us and cover us and fill us with His love and His glory. It is the Holy Spirit who can work in us such a yearning that we will give up our pleasures and even part of our business, that we may the oftener meet our God.
The next phase of prayer is fellowship. In prayer there is not only the worship of a King but fellowship as of a child with God. Christians take far too little time in fellowship. They think prayer is just coming with their petitions.
If Christ is to make me what I am to be, I must tarry in fellowship with God. If God is to let His love enter in and shine and burn through my heart, I must take time to be with Him.
The smith puts his rod of iron into the fire. If he leaves it there but a short time it does not become red hot. He may take it out to do something with it and after a time put it back again for a few minutes, but this time it does not become red hot. In the course of the day he may put the rod into the fire a great many times and leave it there two or three minutes each time, but it never becomes thoroughly heated. If he takes time and leaves the rod ten or fifteen minutes in the fire the whole iron will become red hot with the heat that is in the fire.
So if we are to get the fire of God’s holiness and love and power we must take more time with God in fellowship. That was what gave men like Abraham and Moses their strength. They were men who were separated to a fellowship with God, and the living God made them strong. Oh, if we only would realize what prayer can do!
Another, and a most important phase of prayer, is intercession. What a work God has set open for those who are His priests – intercessors!
We find a wonderful expression in the prophecy of Isaiah. God says, "Let him take hold of Me." And again, "No one calls on Your name or strives to lay hold of You." In other passages God refers to the intercessors for Israel. Have you ever taken hold of God? Thank God, some of us have. But oh friends, representatives of the church of Christ, if God were to show us how much there is of intense prayer for a revival through the church, how much of sincere confession of the sins of the church, how much of pleading with God and giving Him no rest till He make Jerusalem a glory in the earth, I think we should all be ashamed. We need to give up our hearts to the Holy Spirit, that He may pray for us and in us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
What am I to do if I am to have this Holy Spirit within me? The Spirit wants time and room in the heart. He wants the whole being. He wants all my interest and influence going out for the honor and the glory of God. He wants me to give myself up.
Beloved friend, you do not know what you could do if you would give yourself up to intercession. It is a work that a sick person lying on a bed year by year may do in power. It is a work that a poor person who has hardly a penny to give to a missionary society can do day by day. It is a work that a young girl who is in her father’s house and has to help in the housekeeping can do by the Holy Spirit.
People often ask: What does the church of our day do to reach the masses? They ask, though they ask it tremblingly for they feel so helpless. What can we do against the materialism and infidelity in the world? We have given it up as hopeless.
Ah, if men and women could be called out to band themselves together to take hold upon God! I am not speaking of any prayer union or any prayer time steadily set apart, but if the Spirit could find men and women who would give up their lives to cry to God, the Spirit would most surely come. It is not selfishness and it is not mere happiness that we seek when we talk about the peace and the rest and the blessing Christ can give. God wants us, Christ wants us, because He has to do a work. The work of Calvary is to be done in our hearts, we are to sacrifice our lives to pleading with God for men. Oh, let us yield ourselves day by day and ask God that it may please Him to let His Holy Spirit work in us.
Oh, think of this wonderful mystery. God the Father on the throne ready to grant unto us His blessings according to the riches of His glory. Christ the almighty High Priest pleading day and night. His whole person is one intercession and there goes up from Him without ceasing the pleading to the Father, "Bless Your church."
The answer comes from the Father to the Son and from the Son down to the church. If it does not reach us it is because our hearts are closed.
Let us open and enlarge our hearts and say to God, "Oh that I might be a priest to enter God’s presence continually and to take hold of God and to bring down a blessing to my perishing fellowmen!"
God longs to find the intercession of Jesus reflected in the hearts of His children. Where He finds it, it is a delight. He who searches the hearts of His children knows the mind of the Spirit because He prays for the saints according to the will of God.
Bear the Burden of Sin
…We do not wish to say, "I am trying to be as holy as I can. What have I to do with those worldly people about me?" If there is a terrible disease in my hand, my body can not say, "I have nothing to do with it."
When the people had sinned, Ezra rent his garments and bowed in the dust and made confession. He repented on the part of the people. And Nehemiah, when the nation sinned, made confession and cast himself before God, deploring their disobedience to the God of their fathers. Daniel did the very same.
And do you think we as believers have not a great work to do? Suppose we each of us were persons without a single sin. Just suppose it were so, could we then make confession? Look at Christ without sin! He went down into the waters of baptism with sinners. He made Himself one with them. God has spoken to us to ask us if we realize what we are. He now asks us whether we belong to the church of this land, whether we have borne the burden of sin around us.
Let us go to God and may He by the Holy Spirit fill our hearts with unutterable sorrow at the state of the church, and may God give us grace to mourn before Him. And when we begin to confess the sins of the church we will begin to feel our own sins as never before. In five of the epistles to the seven churches in Asia the keynote was "Repent." There was to be no idea of overcoming and getting a blessing unless they repented. Let us on behalf of the church of Christ repent. God will give us courage to feel that He will revive His work.
– Taken from The Master’s Indwelling by Andrew Murray.