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The Way

    by Kevin Pauley

Mumbled Prayers
Date Posted: January 19, 2021

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. - Romans 8:26 HCSB

Have you ever gone by a baby’s cradle and heard what the baby had to say? It sounds like just so much mumbling, babbling and general gibberish. If you were to gather all the most renowned linguistic scholars around that cradle and have them listen for an hour, they would not be able to make heads or tails of the baby’s mumblings.

However, let the child’s parents only come briefly into the room and they will surely be able to interpret the infant’s babblings as a desire for food, water, play time or a hug. Their heart’s fascination and the intimate time they have spent with their child affords them comprehension that is lost to even the world’s greatest minds.

Similarly, the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us by the Father at the behest of the Son of God,[1] enters and makes of the bodies of believers a Temple.[2] There the Spirit resides, gently reminding us of the Son’s call upon our lives and the teachings He gave to the Apostles to pass on to us.[3]

Keeping the Spirit’s role in mind is critical to our understanding of the spiritual gifts. Some would teach that all Christians should speak in “tongues”, though there is no indication in the Scriptures that any gift (with the exception of love) is universal in nature. Still others, when faced with Scriptural teaching on the issue will point to today’s verse and say that the gibberish they speak in church is the Spirit’s intercession with unspoken groanings.

May I point out a couple of problems with this argument? First, it should be the SPIRIT’S groanings – not our own. Second – it should be happening in times of tremendously difficult prayer – not in the hoopla of a wild celebration of emotional chaos. Third it is UNSPOKEN! It is not necessarily heard by anyone other than God Himself! Fourth, the purpose is communication – not ignorant babbling.[4]

There will be times when we are in so much trouble or in so much pain that we don’t even know what to ask. There will be times when we really realize that our hearts are “more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick” and we can’t even know it ourselves,[5] and we’ll begin doubting our own minds and mistrusting our own motivations. Let’s not worry about it. The Spirit has our back. The Spirit will ensure that our deepest desires are correctly verbalized and explained to the Father.

The Lord is fully capable of examining the mind, of testing the heart and of giving each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve.[6] He will even understand our desperate, panic stricken or mumbled prayers.


[1] John 14:16

[2] 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

[3] John 14:26-29

[4] 1 Corinthians 14:9,15, 19,26

[5] Jeremiah 17:9

[6] Jeremiah 17:10

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Biography Information:
I make no claim of superior wisdom or originality. I am a student, just like everyone else. My goal in writing is to simply share whatever God chooses to teach me (many times by my children or parishioners) on any given day. I hope the devotionals are a blessing to you.

Kevin Pauley is a pastor and writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Lynn, their five children and two dogs. His internet address is Berea.
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