Bad News, Good News

The 260 Journey
The 260 Journey
Bad News, Good News

Day 125

Today’s Reading: Romans 8

Has anybody ever said to you, “I have good news and I have bad news, which do you want to hear first?” I always say, “The bad news first.” I want to finish on a high note. So that’s what we’re going to do today as we open Romans 8. Bad news and then good news:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

Here’s the bad news, Paul tells us: we don’t know how to pray. The greatest Christian on the planet admits he does not know how to pray right. That’s why he said, “we.” He included himself.

Those whom you think are amazing at prayer, all those intercessors . . . they don’t know how to pray. None of us do. Not your pastor, professor, church mother, or older Christian.

There is good news: we have help in the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us.”

How does He do that? Let’s jump over to Ephesians 3:20: “To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” God takes our ask and makes it better and bigger than we can ever articulate in prayer.

What a relief! We don’t have to be eloquent. We just have to ask and God will take that request, groan, or plea and make it bigger than what we just uttered.

Paul is saying to us, “Say something, say anything, and God will get it right for you, because He goes beyond our ask.” He takes our ask and goes further. God takes what we say and puts power to it. That takes the pressure off of you and me. We can be saved for ten minutes and still be powerful at prayer. Because it isn’t you, and it isn’t me. It’s God.

Hymnwriter William Cowper’s words are true: “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.”

Why? Indeed, we don’t know how to pray. It’s also true that we have the best help to pray. With that understanding, Brennan Manning’s words are an important truth for us to remember: “The only way to fail in prayer is to not show up.”

God is committed to taking my simple, silly prayer words and adding power to them. The power depends on whose hands in which it rests. I read a poem by an unknown author that fits our purposes here perfectly. I’ve changed up a few bits to make it more contemporary.

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.
A basketball in Keven Durant’s hands is worth about $75 million.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6.
A baseball in Mike Trout’s or Aaron Judge’s hands is worth $19 million.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

A tennis racket is useless in my hands.
A tennis racket in Serena Williams’s hands is a French Open or Wimbledon Championship.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal.
A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

A slingshot in my hands is a kid’s toy.
A slingshot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands are a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and five loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse.
Nails in Jesus Christ’s hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
It depends on whose hands it’s in.

Your prayer is in good hands; it’s in God’s hands. The bad news is not that bad because the good news is really good.