…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For 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. (English Standard Version; Ro 8:26–27)
I love this passage from Paul. It is a tremendous comfort to know that — in the times when I feel very weak in my praying (often), or don’t know what to pray at all (regular)— God the Holy Spirit is very personally involved in helping me talk to God the Father in the name of God the Son. What a grace!
But there is another work of the Spirit that also has to do with prayer that you may be unaware of. Namely, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of our relationship with one another. Because the work of the Spirit is to transform us into the image of the Son, it is He who is integrally involved in stirring up the kind of love that we should have for one another as a family. How might that have to do with prayer?
Michael Reeves argues:
…prayer is simply embracing Christian reality: that we are needy, that we are children of God and so on. But because of the nature of our God, the Spirit doesn’t just bring us in Christ to the Father — he brings us _together_ to him as the Father’s _family_. Therefore, we also pray together with Christ as brothers and sisters before our Father.
Communal prayer, then, is the Christian life in a nutshell — the family of the Father coming together to him to share his concerns…[Therefore,] praying with someone [is] a powerful experience. When friends decide to pray sincerely together, perhaps spontaneously, through it you often get to sense an extraordinary, familial closeness with each other. You are being family together. Prayer for each other is sharing our Father’s compassion. Prayer with each other is being family, and it fosters the unity our God loves.
It has been my privilege, on a weekly basis and many times throughout the week, to gather with brothers and sisters around the throne room at the feet of our common Father, pleading with each other for mercy and grace for ourselves and others in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). I love how God the Spirit is present in those times, leading our praying to merge together, keying off of one another as we bring those requests. I enjoy growing closer to the people in the room because of the communal praying. It has also long been one of my pastoral longings that more Christians in my church, and the wider church, would gather together for times of regular and communal prayer, so that they too would experience this aspect of familial relation.
Therefore, if you are aware of a communal prayer time at your church, may I suggest you try going if you haven’t done so before? Or going more regularly if you’ve gone infrequently? Or, if you don’t know if there is a communal prayer time, call your church office and see if there is. And if there isn’t, ask the pastor if he, or you, could start one.
Don’t rob yourself of this tremendous privilege of membership in the family of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.