You Never Pray Alone

In seminary, I was introduced to the most popular sport in the world - soccer. I say introduced because I only knew of the janky major league soccer teams of my youth. I had no idea of the rich history of Premier League Soccer, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), or the thrill of the World Cup. Many of my seminary friends were fiercely loyal to a particular team. They often chose this team because of a particular player or history of the team. I decided to choose a team and landed on Liverpool. One of the traditions in European soccer is every team has a song that the fans sing during matches. For Liverpool that song is “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Here are the lyrics:
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark 

At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
For your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on 
With hope in your heart 
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on 
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone
It’s a song full of persevering through dark and turbulent times. Walk with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. I share all this as a way of introduction to my thesis for this article: You Never Pray Alone. 

In the song, you never walk alone as long as you’ve got hope in your heart. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a seal (Eph. 4:30), a convicter of sin (John 16:8), a comforter/helper (John 16:7), a teacher (John 14:26), and an intercessor (Rom. 8:26). It is this last role of the Spirit that I wish to discuss with you. 

In Romans 8:26, Paul writes, “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.” Have you ever been so overcome with emotion that you were rendered speechless? We all know how difficult it is to pray. I have always been comforted that the disciples failed so miserably at prayer in the garden of Gethesemane. Yes, it is sad they could not stay awake to pray alongside their friend, teacher, and savior, but let’s be honest and admit the many times we have failed to pray when it was needed. Maybe you have tried to stay awake in the wee hours of the morning only to wake up twenty minutes later? Maybe you’ve tried to pray but your heart was too overwhelmed with sorror or grief or anxiety and you were at a loss for words? What do you do at times like that? When the storms and the darkness seem to surround you? When you think you are alone, remember the Holy Spirit prays with you and then you’ll never pray alone. 

John Murray writing on Romans 8:26 said, “The children of God have two divine intercessors. Christ is their intercessor in the court of heaven (cf. vs. 34; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). The Holy Spirit is their intercessor in the theatre of their own hearts (cf. John 14:16, 17). Too seldom has the intercessory activity of the Holy Spirit been taken into account. The glory of Christ’s intercession should not be allowed to place the Spirit’s intercession in eclipse.” I love that thought, “The Holy Spirit is their intercessor in the theare of their own hearts.” His groanings, whatever they might be, belong to him on behalf of you. When you lack the words, when you lack the thoughts, when you lack the heart, the Spirit will supply your prayers even if they come out as inaudible groans. They will be more than sufficient to reach the throne of heaven where your other intercessor, the Son, sits at the Father’s right hand and lives to make intercession for you (Heb. 7:25). 

How does this change your view of prayer? Does it cause you to lift your head a little higher knowing that prayer is not solely dependent on you? Does it comfort you to know that you never pray alone? The great Scottish Presbyterian minister Robert M’Cheyne said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” Saints, take heart for you have two out of three members of the Trinity praying on your behalf to the other member of the Trinity who delights to hear their intercessions and your prayers. You never pray alone.
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1 Comment

Garrett Houghton - February 29th, 2024 at 10:00am

Love the thoughts my John Murray and yourself. Feels like a divine game of telephone in reverse. Instead of our prayers becoming distorted through intermediaries, they are attested to and interceded for perfectly and in ways that we could never articulate.

Just watch what league you call janky in Atlanta United territory :)