Prayer: Boldly Approaching God's Throne

4 - Do You Seek the Spirit's Help in Prayer?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in words we cannot articulate, and He also helps us articulate our needs and desires to the Father.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part four of a series of selections from Profiting From the Word by A. W. Pink. Read part three.

Edited by Dr. Paul M. Elliott, president of TeachingTheWord Ministries

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us in words we cannot articulate, and He also helps us articulate our needs and desires to the Father.

In the last article in this series, Arthur Pink called attention to our deepest need in prayer, as expressed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:26 - "We know not what to pray for as we ought." But God has not left us without a resource. Paul continues, "the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered." And, the Spirit through the Word helps us in our own articulation of our needs and desires to our Heavenly Father. Pink observes:

We are profited from the Scriptures when we are made conscious of our need of the Spirit's help. First, that He may make known to us our real wants. Take, for example, our temporal needs. How often we are in some external strait; things from without press hard upon us, and we long to be delivered from these trials and difficulties. Surely here we "know" of ourselves what to pray for. No, indeed; far from it! The truth is that, despite our natural desire for relief, so ignorant are we, so dull is our discernment, that (even where there is an exercised conscience) we know not what submission unto His pleasure God may require, or how He may sanctify these afflictions to our inward good... "For who knoweth what is good for man in this life?" (Ecclesiastes 6:12). Ah, heavenly wisdom is needed to teach us our temporal "needs" so as to make them a matter of prayer according to the mind of God.

Perhaps a few words need to be added to what has just been said. Temporal things may be scripturally prayed for (Matthew 6:11, etc.), but with this threefold limitation. First, incidentally and not primarily, for they are not the things which Christians are principally concerned in (Matthew 6:33). It is heavenly and eternal things (Colossians 3:1) which are to be sought first and foremost, as being of far greater importance and value than temporal things. Second, subordinately, as a means to an end. In seeking material things from God it should not be in order that we may be gratified, but as an aid to our pleasing Him better. Third, submissively, not dictatorially, for that would be the sin of presumption. Moreover, we know not whether any temporal mercy would really contribute to our highest good (Psalm 106:18), and therefore we must leave it with God to decide.

We have inward wants as well as outward. Some of these may be discerned in the light of conscience, such as the guilt and defilement of sin, of sins against light and nature and the plain letter of the law. Nevertheless, the knowledge which we have of ourselves by means of the conscience is so dark and confused that, apart from the Spirit, we are in no way able to discover the true fountain of cleansing. The things about which believers do and ought to treat primarily with God in their supplications are the inward frames and spiritual dispositions of their souls. Thus, David was not satisfied with confessing all known transgressions and his original sin (Psalm 51:1-5), nor yet with an acknowledgment that none could understand his errors, whence he desired to be cleansed from "secret faults" (Psalm 19:12); but he also begged God to undertake the inward searching of his heart to find out what was amiss in him (Psalm 139:23-24), knowing that God principally requires "truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 51:6). Thus, in view of I Corinthians 2:10-12, we should definitely seek the Spirit's aid that we may pray acceptably to God.

Next: When You Pray, Do You Sometimes "Ask Amiss"?

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