Each of us has had his heart broken. Most of us have suffered betrayal. We have all felt the disorientation that comes with grief. Every last one of us has made decisions we wish could be undone. Thank God for prayer! Thank God for that intimate communion between the Designer and His little creations.
Friends, our end of prayer is not so much informing God about our situations—He already knows!—as it is inviting God into our situations.
Sometimes when I bring my open heart to the King, I rattle on and on about my concerns, my hopes, my longings. (There are some conversations we have that I barely let Him get a word in—my spirit can be so full of things to talk about!)
But there have been more than a few times when I unfold my heart before God only to find that what’s inside is silence. The situation is too painful, too tender—the scene is too complex, too nuanced—the circumstance is too stinging, too emotional—and I cannot even bring myself to string together a sentence. I imagine the two of us sitting side by side, shoulders touching, staring into the distance.
I’ve heard it said that true friends don’t find silence awkward. Sure, maybe when a friendship is just beginning, a lull in conversation can feel most dreadful, but still, I wonder if it’s also true that real friends can sit together and just be.
However, in friendship with God, there’s actually never silence per se. You see, when we are at a loss for words, He never is. In fact, the prayers you need most aren’t the ones you’re praying. The prayers you need most are the ones He’s praying.
Look at it in Romans 8:26: “…At times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.”
The Greek word at play here is hupererentugkhano, and is a stronger word than intercession; it means literally “hyper-intercession.” The Holy Spirit is standing in the gap, fervently and perfectly telling God what you need personally and what needs to happen in your situation. Isn’t that marvelous? Wow! It makes me catch my breath even to write this!
Jesus Himself is praying for you, too!
Romans 8:34 is a most incredible revelation: “Christ Jesus is the One who died to pay our penalty, and more than that, who was raised from the dead, and who is at the right hand of God interceding with the Father for us.” The context here is that Jesus has no time to condemn believers—He’s spending His time instead praying for us! Wow!
Isn’t it jaw-dropping that the God of both expansive universes and microscopic amoebas is praying for you?
Let’s take it a step further; look at Hebrews 7:25: “And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them” (emphasis mine). Certainly the death and resurrection of Jesus is enough for our salvation, but according to this passage, somehow the prayers of Jesus for you sustain that redemptive work! And did you catch the tail end of that verse? The entirety of Jesus’ life—forever and ever into the future—is consumed with praying for you!
This kind of stuff just blows me away, friends! It’s absolutely humbling.
So, what exactly is Jesus eternally praying about for us?
There are many general suggestions that I could offer as answers, like “internal strength” or “increased love” or “unity with other believers” or even the prayer for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit—and I believe each of those (and others) would be true, especially in light of Jesus’ prayer in John 17. However, I don’t think Jesus is praying ‘generally’ for you. As a matter of fact, I am completely convinced that Jesus is interceding for you in specifics.
He knows your truest self, your most hidden self even, and prays accordingly. He is keenly aware of, say, that orphan identity you have let set up shop in your mind, so He is passionately praying that you wake up to your actual identity as a dearly loved son. He sees that, just maybe, you react from a wounded, guarded place and so is praying for you to receive His perfect healing, that your behavior would be healthy. He knows that your marriage has been dysfunctional for years, and He’s zealously interceding for health, vibrancy, and self-sacrifice to flourish again. He is well aware of all that hoping-against-hope you’ve been doing, and He’s enthusiastically fighting in prayer that your hope pays off.
Be encouraged! Every prayer you’re praying is recorded by God Himself, and He is moved by your heart. But if that wasn’t enough—and it is enough, praise God!—keep in mind that Jesus is also earnestly praying for you. When you’re on a winding, desert path, Jesus is passionately interceding for you. When you’re at a loss for words, Jesus is pleading to God on your behalf.