Asking for Stupid
We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
I was taught from a young age to take my concerns to God in prayer. Looking back at my childhood, I remember asking God for a lot of stupid things. At one point, I thought it would be great to have diabetes as I wanted the attention. Later, in my teenage years, I prayed to win wrestling matches and football games. I’d like to think that my praying has matured over the years, but, particularly in my addiction, my prayers grew even more ridiculous and self-serving. In the misery of opiate withdrawal and desperate for relief, I once begged God to help me obtain another bottle of pills. If you help me get more – and not get caught – I promise this will be the last bottle.
Like I said, I’ve prayed for a lot of stupid things. The underlying problem is that it’s my nature to follow my will above all. In this condition, I tend to see God as a genie in the lamp, existing simply to grant my wishes. God’s purpose is to make me happy, right? Never mind the overwhelming evidence that following my will has made me miserable in the past, I still ask God to give me what I want.
It may not be as obviously stupid as asking for pills to feed a drug addiction, but most of us pray in a profoundly self-centered manner. We don’t go to God asking him for his will in our lives. No, we ask God for our will.
Thankfully, God doesn’t simply give us whatever we want. He does hear our prayers though. In today’s passage, Paul says that even though we don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit, living in us, takes our prayers and shapes them. He hears our prayers and then he goes to God on our behalf, asking for that which is actually good for us.
We can and should take our concerns to God in prayer. We should also realize how self-serving we are. Fortunately, we have God’s Spirit in us who interprets our prayers, even when we ask for stupid things. As we grow and mature, the Spirit teaches us to ask, not for our will, but God’s, the only one who knows what we truly need.