The Power of the Spirit in Our Weakness
A former acquaintance, whom I will call Jim, left his lucrative career to enroll in a graduate program in Bible. He became quite legendary as a man of prayer.
Later, while visiting me, Jim seemed obviously discouraged. He shared that during his pastoral internship, he was visiting a sick woman in the hospital. In her extreme bitterness, she informed him, in no uncertain terms, that she had no desire for him or anyone else from the church to visit her.
Jim replied, “Can I just pray for you?”
She replied, “I don’t care if you do or not. I didn’t even ask you to come.”
As Jim sought to pray for her, he began to cry. His tears were the only prayer he could muster. He reported this to the group in great distress and noted that he felt like a failure.
What we later learned was that the woman had been struck by these compassionate tears. In fact, she had later opened her heart to the Lord and allowed God to deal with her bitterness, and even her health began to drastically improve.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. Our weakness is described as not knowing how to pray as we should. Our weakness is described as not knowing how to pray as we should. The Holy Spirit lends us a helping hand and prays the deep desires of our heart to the Father who graciously hears and answers them (Rom.8:26–27).
In that moment, Jim could have leaned on his own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Instead, as he leaned upon the Spirit in his weakness of not knowing how to pray, the Spirit poured out tears of compassion.
As the Spirit helps us in our weakness, He will plead our deep desires to the Father even if we do not know how to express them at that moment. Paul certainly earnestly prayed his desire that the painful thorn in the flesh be removed from him. God did not answer that request but did give him a deeper desire of his heart—to know God’s grace and power to the fullest extent and be the most useful servant he could be.
Some of the greatest gifts God has given me, and perhaps many of us, are prayers that He did not answer. My father-in-law was a brilliant civil engineer. He was the mastermind behind the underground tunnel system in Chicago. When I asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage, I acknowledged that he knew what I did for a living and that both of us knew I would never earn large sums of money. He replied, “I love what you do and always want you to do it. I also plan to be very generous to all my children.” He had a business project that was projected to channel millions of dollars to his heritage. Although he was always generous in his spirit to us, his business plan never materialized. The later years of his life were spent living on Social Security, and his needs were met but not in the way that he had anticipated. However, he died declaring that God had never disappointed him. He saw himself and all his family as richer by not having these millions of dollars being passed down. I greatly appreciated him as my father-in-law and have no doubt that God’s Spirit had pleaded and answered the deeper desires of his heart.