Where Prayer Becomes Real

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


Day One

Hearing the Good News of Prayer

When I look back on what prayer has been in my life, it has often become a place to perform. Somewhere along the line I came to believe that what God wanted from me was to be good at prayer. So when I fail – when my mind wanders or I just fall asleep – I feel guilty for not being better, and feel a bit ashamed at myself. 

It is precisely in our struggles where we need to discover the good news about prayer. Paul proclaims this in Romans 8:26: “the Spirit prays for our weaknesses, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit prays for us with groanings too deep for words." We don’t know how to pray as we ought. Think about that. When God thinks about you and your ability to pray, God recognizes that you don’t know how to pray. He knows. He understands. 

But if we left it there, that might seem a bit depressing. It is encouraging, perhaps, that God confirms that we don’t know how to pray. I find comfort in the truth that God knows and understands. But God doesn’t stop at mere understanding. God has done something about it! In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are told that we have a great high priest in Jesus who understands our temptations – who has been tempted as we are but without sin – and who passed through the heavens. Our high priest has gone to the very right hand of God, “beyond the veil” as the “anchor of our soul” (Heb. 6:19). This is why we have confidence to “draw near to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16). 

Our boldness is not grounded in how good we are at praying. Our confidence does not rest on the foundation of our ability, our savvy, our knowledge, or our goodness. We can draw near to the Father because of what Jesus has achieved for us. The reason this is such good news is that we can come clean in God’s presence because our goodness, savvy or devotion does not achieve God’s presence. Christ has achieved all for us. Christ rescued us, not in our goodness, but in our sin He died for us (Rom. 5:8). 

So when you pray, consider what you do when you experience your “badness” at prayer. Do you get frustrated, make promises to God about trying harder or getting better than you are and grit your teeth to only fail again? Do you experience shame in prayer because you can’t rest in the truth that God knows you don’t know how to pray? How might your prayers change if you took your failures to God in prayer, seeking the God who knows you don’t know how to pray and who has taken care of it for you?