The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.
It is a dangerous notion indeed to hear that we don’t pray as we ought, because prayer is necessary for Salvation. The reason why I say that is because, ultimately, the only people in Heaven will be those who had obeyed the common will the Triune God, while they were in the flesh (Cf. Mt. 7:21), and the only way to obey God is by receiving those necessary graces, and the only way to receive those necessary graces is to pray to receive them. Thankfully, God has given every man and woman of intellect the free and voluntary choice to pray or not to pray; the choice to ask or not to ask for Divine help. As St. Augustine of Hippo put it, “The God who created you without your cooperation, will not save you without your cooperation.”
Prayer is how we cooperate with God on the most basic and fundamental level. Inasmuch as God saves who He wants to save; for our part, we cooperate with God in His desire to immerse us into His life through our choice to pray, and that is the Divine irony of prayer. That is, God longs deeply for us to invite Him into our life, but that marriage between Him and us must be our free choice through prayer. God wants to be invited into our life, but we have to choose to invite Him in. We can go at this short life alone or with God; it has always been our free choice. God makes no one love Him or hate Him; for it wouldn’t be love if it is forced, and God being the author, life, and source of Love (cf. 1 Jn. 4:8) never forces Himself on anyone. “Before man are life and death, whichever he chooses shall be given him.” (Sirach 15:17)
We grow in our obedience to God when we receive those necessary graces that helps us to do what we ought to do, when we ought to do it, and how we ought to be doing it, but as I said, those graces are things we receive through prayer. And this is why Saint Paul said that “the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings”. For the heart that longs to love God in truth is always in contention with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. These three things work together to frustrate and cloud the child of God from always knowing how what to do, when to do it, and it how it ought to be done. Yet, what prayer does is allow us to open a gateway through those demonic clouds to give us light for our feet to walk the narrow way.
As creatures of God, we were created for prayer, and prayer is a decision, not an emotion. Can it be difficult at times? Certainly. If it were not difficult then the Spirit would not have to intercede for us and God would not have to search the intentions of our heart.
One of the most useful prayers that I have used is called ‘The Jesus Prayer’. It comes from the early centuries of Christianity and is best used as a constantly breathing technique – this way you can pray it at all times, audibly or mentally. The words are, “Christ Jesus, Son of God, Have Mercy, on me a Sinner”. I promise you that this prayer bring immediate help and peace to those to pray it persistently.
As a breathing technique, express it this way:
|Inhale as you say audibly or mentally| Christ Jesus
|Exhale| Son of God
|Inhate| Have Mercy
|Exhale| on me a Sinner
This way you will be receiving (inhaling) Christ Jesus and His Mercy, and praying (exhaling) your confession as a Christian, and I encourage your strongly to pray it as often as your breathe.
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. The phrase “Peace be with you” in this text was replaced with the Hebrew “Shalom”.