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When We Don’t Know How to Pray

Not as the world gives.. give I unto you

The Apostle Paul has an interesting approach to prayer.

He doesn’t end his prayers  “in Jesus name.” Neither do his prayers sound like “The Lord’s Prayer” (Eph 1:16-20) (Eph 3:14-21).

In addition, Paul writes in his letter to the Romans that in our weakness we don’t even know what to ask God for. So, according to Paul, the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Rom 8:26).

Paul then says that the Father hears the Spirit who is praying for us with understanding that we don’t have (Rom 8:27).

In saying that we don’t know what to pray for, the Apostle certainly must have known how Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matt 6:9-16). He had to have heard that Jesus told his followers that the Father would give them anything they asked for in his name (John 16:23-24).

Paul must also have known that the Apostle James wrote about how important it is not only to ask God for help, but to ask with right motives (James 4:2-3).

So why would the Apostle say that in our weakness and trouble we don’t know what to pray for, and must rely on the Holy Spirit’s work of translation and intercession for us?

Seems to me that, for openers,  Paul is saying that, as God loves us with a love that is so much greater than our own (Rom 8:28-39), so his Spirit prays for us with prayers that the Father can be pleased to answer… to form a Christlike heart in us (v 29) …even as our own desire to honor and trust him is being tested in circumstances… that he alone understands.

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66 Responses to “When We Don’t Know How to Pray”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    The gift of the Holy Spirit alive and dwelling within our own spirit gives us an ability we did not have prior to our invitation to Him into our hearts.

    Without our being fully aware, the Holy Spirit guides our thoughts and provides us a direction of thinking.

    Sometimes even speaking through us, as many of us I am sure have said “I don’t know where that came from” after saying something to someone.

    Sometimes when distress or disaster comes upon us, we are “at a loss for words” and as even as we attempt to voice our anguish before God, we can’t find the words to express our emotions.

    We may moan, we may cry, we may even scream out in an attempt to express our heartache…..It is a language God understands.

    It may be that speaking in tongues is a little different from the concept of these passages Paul has opened to our enlightenment.


  2. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    When walking through the woods early each morning or riding my push bike to work I find I continually pray to God in tongues, sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter, but always with a sense of closeness to God.
    Often the prayer will revert to English as a specific person or topic comes to mind.
    When confronted with a problem then praying in the spirit often brings a resolution and solution to it.
    Paul said we should pray continually and by praying in the spirit we can free up our minds to concentrate on the things of God and to set about our daily tasks.


  3. Bob in Cornwall England says:

    Nice to see you back here again Steve!

  4. Toml5169 says:

    Nice to see both of you back. The verses from Romans 8 are very special to me as they speak to us of how “all creation groans inwardly” and is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. What a backdrop for a hope of what the new earth might look like. Maybe C.S. Lewis was correct about talking animals. It is no wonder in our present state of having just the first fruit of the Spirit but still in our fallen nature we don’t know how to pray; especially with our minds. It is interesting that this scripture points out that God searches our hearts but understands the mind of the Spirit. When God chose David it was not because of his mind but where his heart was focused. Now Paul does teach us when praying, singing and other forms of God centered communication that he uses both the mind and the Spirit; however I think Paul is very clear that our minds struggle to communicate clearly with God. I don’t attend a charismatic church and the gift of tongues is never expressed openly during any type of worship or gathering, however in times of prayer I sometimes begin to pray in tongues. I can’t really explain that even though I am fully aware of the theology behind both points of view. What makes me certain of this being from God is the realization that I often cannot express to myself or other people the groaning of my heart, so why would it surprise me when the Spirit takes over both my tongue and translates my heart. This is not something for me that happens on a regular basis but when it does I simply and humbly realize I with all of creation groan for home.

  5. Bob in Cornwall England says:


    That was so well said and from the heart.

  6. musicgirl61 says:

    due to the measure of heartache and grief that I have been journeying through in the past few years, there have been countless times that the only prayer that I could actually utter (and seldom without tears) was “help me!” Although I would have liked to have had more of a conversation with God, at those times I was simply unable. It was a great comfort to me to know that when I could not form words, the Holy Spirit would step in and translate my heart to the Father.

  7. jam200 says:

    Romans 8:26 is a favorite verse of mine. For me, what Paul means is that since the Holy Spirit know the mind of God, the Holy Spirit thus knows what we need. Therefore, the Holy Spirit translates our prayers to be consistent with the mind of God the Father. In that way, the Spirit is praying through groans our needs to the Father.

    Our job is to pray. The Holy Spirit’s job is to translate and conform our prayers to the mind of God, His plan for us.

    Cheers to all!

  8. SFDBWV says:

    As always Bob, love you.

    Tom you are indeed gifted and have spoken well. It is only from a shared experience can we understand how sometimes we just blurt out what to some may seem babbling but is in truth a Holy Spirit led utterance.

    Musicgirl61, there is great power in those simple prayers of “Help me” a surrender to the one who can help. He understands everything you need in those few words.

    Here in my home there is much moaning and groaning and often utterances that we all understand, but only God can answer.


  9. scout1 says:

    Mart, thank you for this timely subject for me. I am really having one of those times in my life when I feel unsettled in my heart and I don’t know how to pray. So, I’ve prayed all the ways that I can and have asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me. I’m waiting for God’s answer.

    It’s so good to see you back Steve, I hope all is well with you and your family.

    Thanks again, Mart -Blessing to all.


  10. poohpity says:

    Mart, I can not think of anything better than to pray or have the Holy Spirit pray for us “to form a Christlike heart in us”. No matter what would come against us or for us that kind of trust, love, sacrifice, service, grace, obedience and mercy to come pouring out of us would be beyond anything else we could ever hope for or desire.

  11. remarutho says:

    Hello Mart —

    I believe, as you said, Paul is referring to profound, unconditional love out of which the Spirit wraps his arms about this soul in anguish — and forms a prayer on behalf of him or her — in perfect alignment with the Father’s will.

    So, waves of assurance wash over a heart and mind stunned into silence by events and circumstances. Thank the Lord for the working of grace! No words can express it.


  12. BruceC says:


    You took the words out of my mouth. I also have found myself over the last several years just crying “Help me Lord” or even “Oh Lord” during times of stress when I know not exactly what to say.
    Six months ago this date when the Lord delivered me from cigarette addiction my cry was “Have thy way with me, oh Lord” It was during a bout with a bad case of the flu. He answered and took away my desire for them.
    I sometimes find myself praying “in the King James” also. But the Lord knows our heart before we even form our thoughts.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  13. SFDBWV says:

    I am having a little trouble this morning forming my thoughts into words. When that happens I find myself groaning a little also.

    We all have prayers that seem to go unanswered. When I think about it nearly all prayers are given in a desperate attempt to relieve us of some form of heartache or pain. I say nearly all because sometimes we give thanks and praise to God in our prayers as well.

    I have also found that many times during praise and thanksgiving, God speaks to me.

    I have also be awaken many times in the middle of the night with an urgent need to pray, for what or for whom I do not know….Sometimes a simple prayer satisfies and sometimes an utterance in the unknown language is needed to satisfy. Both are God led prayers but the utterance of moaning and groining are pure prayer from God’s Spirit through my tongue into a spoken request.

    God spoke all things into existence by what He said. Through Jesus Christ’s voice all things that are came into existence.

    Though only an image and shadow, we are made like Him, especially in our ability to create by what we say. It is written that we will all be held accountable for every word we have ever spoken.

    There is power released both in this world and in the spirit world when we speak. Our prayers are said to be a fragrance to God, reaching not only the Thrown of God in heaven, but His attention and His senses.

    So intimate is the relationship between God and each one of us, that He gives us the attention we need in order to help us pray, when for what ever reason we don’t know what to say.

    It is another gift as special as any when God uses us to speak a word into existence for His desire and will to be offered up in prayer.

    A great deal to this subject Mart, thanks for the opportunity to think about them and share my thoughts with my friends here.


  14. cherielyn says:

    Public prayer has been a struggle for me ever since I was made fun of for a prayer I said prior to a meal some years ago. From that time on I have struggled with oral prayer in front of anyone.

    There was a dear lady from the previous church I attended) that prayed with me during our Wednesday night prayer & Bible study meeting. I finally felt comfortable with praying orally with her as my prayer partner. We developed a close friendship and remained friends to the end. She passed away last Saturday at the age of 93.

    I have bought a number of books on prayer, trying to overcome my shyness at praying openly, but I just cannot seem to get comfortable. So, I just continue praying silently, knowing God hears. And yes, there are many times when I don’t know what or how to pray for something.

    For instance: In the past couple months I have been so busy with taking care of my son’s medical issues that I have not had much time to visit BTA. In the past couple weeks I did visit & read the topic and some of the responses. I noted the absence of one of my favorite posters – Steve (SFDBWV). Each time I had time to check, I noticed that there was no post from him. I got very concerned, thinking that something happened and I earnestly prayed that if he was still among us, but unable to contribute due to health issues or something else, that the Lord would graciously lay his healing hand on him and bring Steve back to us.

    I am so thankful, Steve, that you are back and contributing! Thankful to God for prayers answered for whatever the reason was for your absence!

  15. Toml5169 says:

    So well said. Our relationship to God and the spoken word are powerful and healing at the same time. I also want to say that I affirm what Musicgirl said about the simplicity of a cry to God. I remember when my girls were little, and now with our grandsons, how at times they would come to me sobbing in deep breaths but could not voice their pain but only sob before me. At this point nothing would bring any resolution than just to wrap my arms around them and let their tears fall on my chest. Eventually they with halting voice could start to express in words what only sobs could express previously. Steve mentioned the link between prayers and heaven and in Revelation we see a golden bowl of incense which is the prayers of the Saints. In Psalms 56:8 we read that God collects our tears in a bottle; I wonder bow close the two might be. Perhaps even our bottled tears rest inside that golden bowl of incense prayers? The picture is beautiful only because it points to how much God loves us and comforts us through prayer, even when all He can do in the moment is capture our tears.
    Be blessed in the Fathers arms today.

  16. SFDBWV says:

    Cherielyn, Dear beloved sister, your prayers are as powerful and as important to God as any given by anyone anywhere. In the matter of my absence from the blog your concerns and prayers were also felt by me by the same Spirit that lives in us all who call upon our Lord. It is why I have returned and promise to stay in fellowship with you and everyone else.

    The Lord tells us to go privately into a secluded place and pray, I do this many dozens of times a day. I know of no more private place then that of my mind.

    My son Matthew and I pray together every night, he relies on me to be the prayer leader, but adds his thoughts in as he remembers people he wants to pray for.

    Many times I hear Matt call out to God, it may not sound like a prayer one hears openly in such a public place as church, but never the less a call to God for relief.

    I think there is something very special and powerful in such prayers.

    We here are prayer partners for each of our needs, where two or more come together in Christ’s name, He is present. Use the power of your mind and imagine that we all are holding hands together as we offer up prayer for each other. I do.

    I don’t know why God hasn’t given you and I the answer to our prayers in the way we want them answered….But I know He hears us and weeps with us and hurts just as much we….But we will overcome and there is a brighter and better answer for our pain. I don’t know what, or how or when I just know that God will not leave us nor abandon us to our heartaches and has a more glorious future for us either in this life or the next then we could ever imagine or speak of in prayer.

    Your friend


  17. Toml5169 says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of a friend and one who gave voice to your prayers. Anyone who would ridicule a prayer is the one who should remain silent. May God give you free voice and another praying friend to help express it.
    I will pray for God to comfort you in His arms today.

  18. poohpity says:

    cherielyn, I am also sad to hear about your loss.

    I think sometimes when we put a label on talking with God a preconceived notion of what that looks like or sounds like my inhibit our conversations. The prophets and others in the OT showed by example that they just held expectant conversations with the Lord. The reason I say expectant is because it always seems that they talked, looking for God to talk back and be part of the interchange of words and understanding that God had ears that listened to whatever they said. More than anything else God saw their hearts, understood their needs and was willing and able to provide for them sometimes when all the words were gone but God would prompt the conversation by asking the people questions. i.e. 1 Kings 19:9 “What are you doing here, Elijah?” etc.

  19. oneg2dblu says:

    On the subject of Prayer and Tongues, of all the other Gifts of the Spirit that are so freely given to believers, I wonder why we would be led to only speak in tongues, and never given to write that language as well? Just a thought…
    I’m sure most of us have been led to write out our prayers at some time, and I wonder if that process was only for us, or was it for us to share?
    How many times have you heard of Christ actually speaking in tongues?
    To me the closest He came, was when he spoke in parables, which were also not understood by many, and needed some form of interpretation for those He chose to edify. To some those parables sounded like useless words, but He was using actual spoken language.
    Those that needed more interpretation, like his own disciples, he further revealed the meaning, he interpreted for them, that which they failed to grasp.

    It seems that most of the other “known gifts,” are given to provide for others, accept this speaking in tongues, when there is no interpretor or witness present,then I wonder who’s benefitit it really is for?

    I’ve uttered in unknown words myself, played around with the unknown language if you will, but only when I was “doing church,” or involved with a church that told me I should do it if I were a true believer. But, because I know I do not have that God-given Gift, I do not find myself entertaining it, in any form, for some unknown edification to be revealed, or for God’s entertainment, or commanded asking.
    (dfkgkjdorkogm’sdom voergjopefbmpoidr-jgiopwjiwtrsd!)
    I think some of us, get caught up in “taught” religious activity. So beware of a false rendering of a preceived gift, that may only be a teaching of a particular churches way, and not the following of the dictates of Christ!
    I know you can all see the “offending nature,” of one of the Gifts I do possess! The gift of discerning… and then the tough revealing nature it must take. Gary

  20. SFDBWV says:

    Good afternoon Gary, of all of the gifts given to believers, it is my belief that the gift of discernment is given to all believers. So as not to be deceived.

    You have stated that you played around with speaking in an unknown tongue only while associated with a church that demanded it. Why?

    It is written that not everyone is given the gift of tongues. In so much as to this subject of groaning as a means of the Holy Spirit praying for us, personally I see this as different from the gift of tongues.

    I believe it to be applied to all who are so grief stricken or at an impasse as they don’t know what say to God as a prayer….So God speaks for them and through them in the form of groaning. Clearly understood by God yet unidentifiable as a language to the one who is praying.

    Jesus spoke to everyone and everyone understood Him, no matter whether Greek or Jew, Roman or Samaritan. He speaks to all believers all over the world today to them in whatever language they speak and that would include whatever language the Angels speak as well.

    The Parables of course have no connection whatsoever to speaking in tongues. However if you look to the matter, Jesus began to speak in Parables only after the elders of Israel rejected Him and did not recognize their day of deliverance.

    Many people do not believe in the gift of tongues and I too have heard many preachers condemn it from the pulpit.

    I believe what the Word of God teaches me, and one of the items the Word has taught is the gift of tongues or speaking in an untaught or unknown language.

    Like many things the Word teaches, just because someone doesn’t believe it doesn’t make it to be false. Just because one doesn’t possess a gift doesn’t mean the gift doesn’t exist.

    As is explained, the gifts are given to individuals so that as a body of believers all the gifts are present in the Body of His Church. For the edification of all and the blessing applied to everyone. Christianity is a team sport.


  21. heavenonearth2011 says:

    I’ve read all the responses, THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! being that I’m going through something right now all these posts helped me, especially the ones about speaking in tongues. I go to a church where it’s required for us to speak in tongues before we can serve, but I’ve only spoken in tongues one time, since I’ve been here, and I was saved a looong time before I did that. But for some reason or another, I have not been able to speak again since that first time. When I heard myself speak, I stopped because I realized what I was doing. Not that I don’t believe in it, I’ve been struggling with this for a long time! I’ve gone up to the altar many a time, to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. But I felt God was telling me I do have the baptism of the spirit I just haven’t manifested it again. Someone said it was that my mind is overriding my spirit to keep me from speaking. So if you all could please pray for me that I speak soon because I really need to be able to communicate with God in all ways possible. But it did help to know that when I cry or moan & groan God hears and understands that too, and I shouldn’t worry about the tongues, but I feel pressured sometimes, but it’s probably just me pressuring myself to speak, and it really bothers me.

  22. Toml5169 says:

    If you have the gift of discernment, which I don’t argue about at all, I wonder why you believe “and then the tough revealing nature it must take.” I don’t understand many gifts of the Spirit of God any more than I fully understand all the whys and hows of God in any circumstance. My experience is just the opposite of yours, not that experience is a proof of anything, in that I have never attended for any period of time a church that was charismatic. In fact I have always been associated with churches at the other end of the spectrum on this subject. When people have attempted to support that speaking in tongues is a proof higher spirituality, salvation or any point in between, I will take them to task on that issue. If that were true the church at Corinth should have been mature in Christ and they were not. I can’t really say why I sometimes speak in tongues, or why it is only during times of prayer, but that is simply the way it has been in my own life. I have heard preachers teach against this gift as it is defined today but in most instances I feel they do a disservice to the Body of Christ as much as those who almost demand it of their congregations. It is the tone of their delivery that divides instead of seeking understanding I don’t appreciate. I would be just as careful with discernment or any other more wholly accepted gifts as with the gift of tongues and other often debatable gifts. All spiritual gifts can be abused and end up being something that feeds our fleshly nature instead of edifying the body. However it is clear that even in the case of not having an interpreter present Paul does not discount that the spirit of the individual is edified; just not the body as a whole. Thus Paul encourages in that case to speak to himself and to God; which is exactly my experience. I don’t consider myself having some special access others are lacking in any way, nor would I try to force my experience on someone else; but I don’t discount it either. I have had several experiences during my life in Christ I said “where did that come from” and many times it was with understanding of scripture beyond anything I had prepared in advance. I believe it was Steve who mentioned that in his first blog to this topic. All of that aside I would encourage you to reconsider the “must” part of your “tough revealing nature” and consider a somewhat softer approach to a gift I believe you do possess and is highly valued by me as just another stone in the temple of God. I love you brother and if I misunderstood your tone I apologize up front.
    In Him

  23. heavenonearth2011 says:

    But I am already serving in many capacities. Please, I would like to hear your responses.

  24. bratimus says:

    1 Corinthians 13:1

    Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

    if a church membership depends on if you speak in tongues as a requirement. I think point of being a member of the body of Christ has been lost. We are to come as we are to Christ and serve Christ as He sees fit for us to serve.

    Romans 12:4

    4) For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function.

    Romans 14:13

    Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s/sister’s way.

    1 Corinthians 12

    4) There are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit

    All of 1 Corinthians 12 is good for the soul

  25. foreverblessed says:

    heavenonearth, did bratimus answer your question? If a church demands speaking in tongues, as Tom5169 wrote too, how can a church require that of you? I pray that you yourself grow very close to God Himself, what is He saying to you. Because as it is right now, it is the church that demands you speaking in tongues, so the church stand in between you and God. DO not let that happen. You serve a Living God. You can serve Him, and not have a task in the church.
    And the biggest serving we can do quietly at home, is praying. God can have a need for someone, He lays it in our heart, and we pray. We shall be perplexed when we see at the last day, how our prayers have worked miracles. Put together in a big bowl. What a great work we have! I have always wondered, God is all powerful, He can do what He wants, but still He works through us praying in the Holy Spirit. He wants to work with us! Isn’t that amazing?
    this is going to be a long post, I will split it.

  26. foreverblessed says:

    Heavenonearth, you said you have spoken a few words in tongues, do you remember one of those words? Then start to use it. I have asked God times and times for speaking in tongues, but nothing happened. As I had asked God, I do not want to repeat the words others speak, I want words form You Yourself. At a prayer meeting one time, one word came into my mind. It suddenly appeared and I heard it.
    That was 10 years ago or so. And that was it. This spring we talked about it in our church housegroup, and one of the ladies said, if you got one word, then you have been given the gift of tongues, do not despise one word, start using it, she said. And after that I started to use it, and it has always edifying me, teaching me more and more about it. And I can not explain it. So I was thinking, the groaning we do in the Spirit, is like the use of tongues. The Spirit works it out. The word I received is Kyria, (kuuria) meaning Lord Latin and greek. And the more I use it, the more I realise how great our Lord is, Lord of Hosts. No one higher then He is, why should I fear, as I have done, and still do at times? If God is for us, who can be against us? And many many others things I learn, and just from one word God gave to me.
    And what else can we say, as God is an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, so vast beyond our understanding, it takes eternity to meet the Eternal Mind.

  27. Mart De Haan says:

    I think Steve is right that, when the New Testament talks about the ability to speak real words in a language not learned, it is different than the Spirit groaning with and for us as he prays to the Father for us.

    Our approach has been that the Apostle Paul put this and other supernatural sign gifts in the context of using whatever God has given us to love one another (1Cor 12-14).

    Paul did not forbid tongues but rather offered specific guidelines which were be used to provide order in the church, discourage spiritual pride, and protect the reputation of Christ when outsiders showed up in a meeting.

    Along with many of you, I’m convinced that subjects like this need to be discussed with humility because of what is beyond our understanding; with honesty because what we don’t understand must be considered in light of truths God has revealed; and with love because that is the fulfilling of the law and spirit of our Lord.

  28. SFDBWV says:

    Heavenonearth and all others who also harbor her thoughts and fears. It is a great sadness to me why so many people who are confessing Christians are so divided. Though Jesus Himself said He came to divide, one would think that we would all be united through Christ.

    Like creation itself is corrupted so is our Christianity. We are filled with false doctrine and warned of it, filled with false teachers and warned as well that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing that are among us. Their purpose I suppose to devour the weak and lame among our ranks.

    Our defense as well as our offense is knowledge of the Word of God. Yes the famous armor of God Paul describes is our full protection against all of the attacks against our belief and faith. But the sword of the truth is the Word of God and our best weapon against our foe.

    We all serve God beginning by believing Him and what He has had to say to us. By accepting Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah and believing that which He has said as well. We serve God in our faith and in our suffering and struggles, looking to Him for our salvation and for our answers. It is our faith that pleases Him, not our works.

    Speaking in tongues comes from the Spirit not from our self generated decision to do so.

    A person can no more demand that another speak in tongues in order to prove their spirituality, then one can tempt God as warned against from Jesus Himself.

    All who call upon the name of the Lord are saved.

    If God needs you to speak in tongues you will, if He decides it is not needed from you then you won’t no matter how much you may want to.

    If when you are in prayer and you feel there is something missing, then begin to praise God even begin to sing, make up the song you sing as you are caught up in praise and the making of a joyful noise, you may be surprised to discover that you are speaking in tongues as well as groaning and moaning and making a joyful noise that God alone understands.

    I pray for a joyful and blessed day for all here today.


  29. BruceC says:

    I agree with Steve on some points. Wife and I spent years going to Pentecostal churches.(And may I make myself clear from the start. Whatever church you attend is between you and God and for your reasons and is not my affair.)
    Although not taught from the pulpit several leading members in those churches made it quite clear that it was “their opinion” that if you did not speak in tongues then you were not baptized in the spirit and therefore not saved.
    From what I had been taught in other churches the gift of tongues as outlined in Acts was a gift given to further the Gospel to people of other languages, in other words the ability to speak in a language previously unknown to the speaker.
    This is far different from I have heard and spoke in some Pentecostal churches. Some pastors spent more time on gifts in these churches than on Christians growing in the love of Christ.
    I have been told also that what I heard was in reference to:

    Romans 8:26
    King James Version (KJV)
    26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

    My response was if the groanings cannot be uttered, then why are you uttering them?
    Much of this confusion for us is now past and if someone wants to speak in what they believe is tongues; then go right ahead. I will not let the difference in opinion cause a division as far as I am concerned.

    My wife has been blessed with the talent of crafts and I with art; and both of us with the gift of helps and generosity. We consider it an honor to use these gifts for the work of the church and His glory.

    Sometimes when crying out to God I can truly relate to the psalmist when he penned Psalm 6.

    God bless all here with unity of Christ’s love!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  30. musicgirl61 says:

    well said, BruceC!

  31. Toml5169 says:

    Heavenonearth and all
    I have shied away from your question due to the fact that I don’t have a clear view of your church or why they have made the choices they have made. But since you did ask I have decided to give an opinion for your sake. I agree with what has been spoken and alluded to by others that tongues was never meant as a litmus test for leadership or for any proof of a special anointing of God. Paul makes it clear to me that all spiritual gifts are given for the building up of the body of Christ. If tongues in any definition were to be a test for leadership why would Paul rather speak 5 words of prophecy than 1000 in a tongue? To make a person who is born again feel like their gift of service, administration, mercy, helps or anything can’t serve in leadership unless they speak in tongues creates several problems:
    1. It makes people try to force and falsify a gift they were never given.
    2. It greatly hinders and limits the potential of that church.
    3. In my mind it would be like an old testament prophet being authentic only if he could make an axe head float.
    4. The most troubling however is it causes elitism and segmentation within the church which is opposite of what all gifts were intended for.
    My advice, which is based on very limited knowledge of your situation, is do not try to force yourself in any way to speak in tongues and if you feel fully led to leadership by God, you may after pleading your case before the leaders of this church, find one that will allow you to do so without making tongues a test. In all the study I have done on gifts and church leadership I just don’t see this stance being scriptural nor beneficial to the church. Only my thoughts and opinions and only because you asked. There is not time or space to give adequate and full dialogue to your question. Humbly yours,
    Tom in Portland

  32. poohpity says:

    I believe we have a one on one relationship with the Lord and He just loves it when we talk to Him from our hearts in our own language with honesty and humility. No formal guidelines or formula just being open and real before Him. If you really think about it God already knows everything about us and knows our needs so why not talk with Him about all things because there are no secrets that are not already known, no desires that He is not aware of and no thoughts that shock him. Just be yourself with Him because after all He knows you better than you know yourself.

  33. Toml5169 says:

    Very well and succinctly put! May I add an AMEN!!

  34. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends!

    It seems to me there is another facet to explore on “not knowing how to pray.” I have at this time put out a fleece before the Lord (Judges 6:36-40). This is a practice, like a prayer language or the gift of tongues, that is controversial in the body of Christ.

    I have done this Gideon thing because I am at a life-juncture in this season. I believe I see an open door to a change in location and situation — continuing, I pray, to serve God wherever I land. But, I do not know how to pray in the matter. It is complex to seek a transfer. Should I remain passive and pray fervently for “things” to change? Or, should I pro-actively express the intent to move on? Therefore, I am laying out a fleece — asking the Lord to move according to his perfect will in the matter…also asking close friends to pray with and for me as I look to the Lord to move. I am asking God to move sovereignly at the time God chooses. Scary.

    “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”


  35. poohpity says:

    Sometimes we are just asked to step out in faith to stretch our comfort zone and try something new to grow and depend on the Lord instead of the same ol’, same ol’.

  36. BruceC says:


    Your post about our one on one relationship with our loving, heavenly Father is most excellent and spot on!!
    Keep it up sister! I’ll give an amen to that!!

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  37. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… 8-18, 1:20 Thank you for your reply. We are both on the same page about the gifting of the Spirit, and the defined passage in Acts about the use of tongues which did NOT need another’s intrepretation, because each one heard the message in their own language. Just like today as the bible speaks to us, all
    Christ Followers, who have the Promised Deposit of the Helper inside them, and have this discerning and this illumination of the word, or interpretation of the written word, in a form which the world does not possess. The world only see the words, but the interpretation of the Indwelling Spirit is lacking.
    In that light, we are totally aligned.
    The prayer voice you speak of with groanings, which may or may not be expressed with our tongues, is also very present in each Believer.
    Like you,I believe those gifts, discerning and the groaning spirit, are not a part of the seperately mentioned giftings, they are part of the Miracle of the Presence of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, inside each believer.
    The separate listed giftings, like the gift of teaching,
    gift of helps, and other gifts are given to some, but not all, and some possess more than one. Each providing a specific function in the Body of Believers.
    We do not need churches, or man, to teach us these giftings, they are given by God alone, not by the religious following of any churche’s prefered leanings.
    Now, to answer your, WHY?
    I learn in many ways, and one is through exposure to the written word, and also by experience. Both of these methods sharpen my discernment in different ways, but lead to the same outcome. They protect me from falling victim to false teachings and followings, and for that, I give all the Glory to the Lord. So, however I obtain the knowledge, and use of these gifts, to me, they are not to be held captive, but revealed to others as I am led to do so. That is the Gift I speak of which is not discernment alone, but a blending of both, discernment and revealing. I hope that answers your, “Why?” Gary

  38. oneg2dblu says:

    Tom… I love you as well, you are my Brother in Christ regardless of which gifts you may or may not possess.
    It is not the specific gifting that makes you, or I and more or less valued, but it is the Relationship with Christ, that makes us all valued brothers.
    I do believe that where you worship, and what you are being taught by man, or the religions and churches of man, have a large impact on what you believe you need, or should possess or practice, to be fully accepted by a particular following.
    But, In Christ,and in the Following of the Master’s Footprints,we all take the same directed path to Our Salvation in Him!
    It is in the “teachings of certain churches,” we find ourselves at odds, and that finding is VERY revealing, for all paths do not lead to the same place.
    With that, I leave everything in the Lord’s leading to direct each of us, into our blessed place among the Family of God.
    We all start our walk at the same point, empty. guilty,
    lonely,lost, broken, and walking in our own nature.
    Praise God, that He does not want us to remanin in that unforgiven state, for He Loved Us enough just the way we were, but gave His Life to change us Forever! Gary

  39. oneg2dblu says:

    bratimus… Yes… come as you are to Christ, its the only way to come!
    That means when you come, you are both un-deserving, and un-serving, and through Christ, you are changed into serving where He sees fit.
    That only happens to those who are Believing and Obedient, which is not how you were!
    You came when you Believed you are Called, and then you Obey! So, this means you can not remain as you were, and really serve Him! Gary

  40. oneg2dblu says:

    BruceC… thank you for bringing to light, Romans 8:6.
    When we stay close to the Word of God, and not be led astray by others, we stand a better chance of getting things in right order. Praise God, for His clearly written word.
    Too bad man must define things his own way instead.
    Indecipherable utterings, as performed by some people in certain churches, will never be needed to edify the believers, like the clearly written words of the Only One we should be listening to. Gary

  41. oneg2dblu says:

    poohpity… you are right on! Any time some person or church, tells you they have the “Recipe for Rightness” with God, you had better go directly to the Source for your findings, and using your regualr language, probably won’t hurt either! Gary

  42. bratimus says:


    I come to Christ every day as who I am everyday willing to serve as Christ sees fit everyday.

    I was responding to a question of Christians serving and requirements of service. Not when first accepting Christ.

    I guess you overlooked Romans 14:13

    13) Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fail in our brother’s way.

  43. 1inhim says:

    Maru (Remarutho) I have been where you now seem to be. The fleece thing is controversial to say the least; but it is in HIS Word for a purpose, even the drawing of straws has been recorded.

    But to be extra careful, I employed a specific promise of God in my fleece: Romans 13:1-2 which speak of the authorities’ places over us “are of God” (for our good and not harm). Therefore I decided to take God up on this specific promise. My prayer was this “I believe you God” and that I’m going to follow Your precepts and put “my” dilemma/decision/fleece into the hands of those you have placed in authority over me. Furthermore I promise to do whatever they say. Because You will be working on my behalf through them. I believe that HE can and does work through all things, to reveal Himself to us, even our enemies.

    I did this many years ago and to this day I am still amazed at how HE validated this process. Faith in HIS Word is an amazing thing to behold. May you be more blessed than I was through this process!

  44. 1inhim says:

    Prayer such a multifaceted thing to think on!

    As I look back over my prayer life I find so many different emotions and responses and some growth. There have been times of heart ache, the joy of knowing and receiving answers, the dry and empty times; but the constant anchoring thing in all of it was His Spirit. It was like I was an emotional “tethered ball to a pole, the world was knocking around”. How humbling to realize that I am such a small child trying to communicate to an infinite and wholly wonderful God (and Father). The important thing is that I continue to try; it is in the trying that I grow.

    Psalm 139:1-4 helps me understand that HE knows me more completely and what I’m trying to say than I do. And so He probes me when I pray with things like “what are you really thing to say?” or “are you sure that is what you want?” and so it goes some times; and my Spirit just groans in me.

    It was only when I realized that I was always “laid bare” before Him and that nothing of me was hidden from HIM (only things I had hidden from myself) that I came to grips with my own depravity. How presumptuous of me to think HE needed my help understanding the issues in “my” life. As if I need to explain things to HIM or even more perversely that HE “needs” me in some way in this relationship. What a fool I have been. HE doesn’t “need” me … HE “wants” me. It’s a relationship thing not an information thing. It’s about being One with HIM. Letting Him have His way in me and listening as I open my heart to Him and He revels what He wants for me.

    Prayer is such a personal thing between one’s self and God that only God can lead in this process. He is drawing us into Him. We are all gifted and led differently and are at different stages of our lives; so He alone knows what we need and will meet us at our moment of need as He has promised. HE is never late or early in meeting our need.

    But prayer time is time well spent; meeting with HIM.

  45. joyandshalom says:

    This is my first post after literally spending hours of reading this and other blogs on the site. I must admit that at first, I felt that I would not participate because the majority of the responses were so “eloquent” that I figured a person needed a doctorate to participate (smile). However, it became apparent that everybody’s comments are honored & appreciated.
    There are so many comments on this prayer subject that I could make, but I would like to start with the speaking in tongues since “heavenonearth2011” asked for responses. As a “baby” Believer in Jesus years ago, my first experience was in a Pentacostal church, and it was drummed into me that I had to be “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” as evidenced by “Speaking in Tongues”. However, speaking in tongues did not come to immediately, but when it did, I had a similar reaction as “heavenonearth2011” when some “tongue” did come out. I found myself not being able to speak it because I did not know what I was saying. Therefore, I did not know whether I was glorifying my Father in heaven, or glorifying something or someone other than my Father in heaven. Now this is MY basic issue with tongues but I do not judge others for doing what they feel is right. Anyway, just as “BruceC” said in post of 8/19/11 at 7:23am, I was being told that I was not saved because I did not/would not speak in tongues. Well, to me, those were FIGHTING words because you do not tell me that I do not have the Spirit of my Father (or the love of His Son Jesus) within me. Even as a “baby” Believer, I knew “SOUR MILK” when I was being fed it, so I left that church. Please, “heavenonearth2011” I am not necessarily saying that you should leave your church, but that’s what was best for me because I ended up in a Bible believing church where I began to flourish. Also, He has used that & past experiences to “hone” my discernment. “Toml5169” has made some excellent comments in his 8/19/11 at 8:31am post, and I believe that his 4 points are definately something to think about. May His answers to prayer bring you Shalom (peace) very soon my sister in Christ.

  46. jani820 says:

    Hello everyone! Firstly, my condolences to cherielyn on the passing of her dear friend and prayer partner. Never stop praying God hears you and He knows your voice. It hurt to learn that someone would tease you during a time of prayer. That is them, not you. heavenonearth, I think as a teenager I attended the same church. The church mothers and deacons would have prayer service for the teens and they would want to see and hear God in our hearts. The elders would listen as we “tarried for the Holy Ghost” as we kneeled at the altar during those Friday night prayer meetings. If your utteranced passed inspection you could pray in your seat. When I went to college, I sang in the Christian choir. We traveled to one of the members home church for a performance. We had a time of prayer. I felt so moved, that I began to pray in my prayer language. Well, the choir secretary was not pleased that I “uttered” my prayer in her church. She was quick to tell me that my tongues were immature, and it was just babble. The pastor of that church and most of the congregants that day were in simultaneous prayer. How did this young woman single me out in a sanctuary of a few hundred people? Somehow I was wrong. I felt no displeasure from heaven,I was praising God as only I knew at the time. This tongue issue really gets people upset. Fast forward to the future, I had three toddlers;my babies. They were a trio of destroyers at that time. Trips to the supermarket where becoming difficult. I spent more time taking stuff out of the cart, then getting stuff on my list. To say they were busy, was an understatement. I took them to the grocery store for a quick pick of something for dinner. The youngest was not quite two. Numbers 1 and 2 were tossing stuff in and running away. The baby started tossing stuff in as soon as I was distracted with the other two. I was outnumbered three to one. When I finally reach the checkout, my stick of emotional dynamite was burning. The icing on the cake of lets torment mommy was when the baby was trying to help put the large jar of applesauce on the conveyor belt. It crashed to the floor and broke all over my feet. I was about to use swearwords and to my surprise, nothing but tongues, my prayer language came out. God knows when we are about to go too far. I didn’t stop uttering until that flash of anger passed. The cashier was from the middle east, so he just looked at me like I was speaking some native language. I thank God for that moment that He didn’t let me speak something that would have damaged their spirits, or hurt their feelings. They looked at me wide-eyed. I can honestly say I had to repent because those feelings were still inside. My husband did not think our little angels were that awful. The next shopping trip he took them alone. He came back and said never again. It took about six months before they were shopping ready. Yes I believe God gives us tongues. No tongues should not be the standard for judging your faith, nor your salvation, nor anyone’s devotion to the Lord. Let God be true, and every man a liar. I just can’t figure the limits we put on God. If we serve Him with our whole heart,mind, and soul,is that not what the Lord is seeking?

  47. Regina says:

    Record breaking temp in Texas today (107 degrees right now)! High on Aug. 19, 1984: 106 degrees. Also, many wildfires in various areas today.

  48. Regina says:

    Forgot to mention the new BTA web page design! Wow! I think it’s really nice!

  49. Toml5169 says:

    1inHim, Joy and Jani:
    I just had a few minutes to drop back in and I just want to commend all 3 of you for the thoughts and insights you posted. With all the varied backgrounds and experiences we have all had I am amazed how the Spirit of God binds us together. We all need to sit down in glory and laugh together:)
    On the fleece issue I have only done that once in my life and that was in deciding if I should quit my senior project manager position with a construction company and come to work at the rescue mission. My wife suggested we lay out a fleece before God. We did so and gave very specific items we both agreed had to be fully met before we would make this move. It was an unbelievable experience as God opened WIDE every item on that list but one and that was the lowest salary we could afford to live on. My wife was the one telling me that we couldn’t not have me switch jobs with everything else that had worked out so clearly and I was saying we agreed everything had to fall into place. At that point the phone rang and the director asked me if I could have more pay or an extra week of vacation which would I want? As we spoke for a few minutes he said without any asking on my part, “How about I give you both; would you commit to joining us?” How could I refuse as God had once again shown His perfect timing. Best and hardest job I have ever had and the fleece was fulfilled. I can’t say I would ever do it again but that is my experience with the topic. God is good and I love you all in HIM!

  50. oneg2dblu says:

    bratimus… please forgive my uttering of the basics of how to “continue” in the faith, and serve. If my constant reiteration of Belief and Obedience, wears thin, for that I am truly sorry. But for some others who read this blog, remaining as they were, is just not the message that I see in the scripture. If that presents a stumbling block for others, and a judgemental heart to you, so be it. My attempt was only given to draw us closer to the basics, not to cause us to stumble.
    I try to preach and not judge the choir, because even the choir needs to hear it. If it rings of judement,
    then perhaps it is the hearer who judges. Gary

  51. oneg2dblu says:

    To all the blog family…I think that sometimes, (when we don’t know how to pray,) we judge as the world judges instead. Is it not the whole world that judges everything, and everybody?
    I think if we all prayed about other’s words, before we judge them for ourselves, we would be Asking. Seeking and Knocking, instead, to see how Christ judges them. Is that not also a worthy use of Prayer? Gary

  52. poohpity says:

    I think it would be nice to pray for a Christlike heart which if we followed his example He came neither to judge or condemn but to save and serve.

  53. joyandshalom says:

    Tom, thank you & Amen!
    I have never heard of the prayer concept to lay out a fleece before God. Would you explain this to me when you get a chance and please include any Scriptural references so that I may research further? Thank you

  54. foreverblessed says:

    Joyandshalom, thanks for posting, I realy enjoyed your post, I do hope everybody that feels compelled to post will do so.
    The fleece condept comes from Gideon Judges 6, he wants reassurance from God, he had been given a sign already, the miraculous burning of the offering on the altar,Judges 6:21, but he wanted more reassurance, Judges 6:37 and that of the fleece, and after one sign, he asked another Judges6:39.
    Gideon himself realised he was overburdening God. So I do not know if this is a good example to follow.

    Our pastor had another way: when he had a word from God, to do a certain thing, a big thing, he asks God to reaffirm the same word through his wife. That God would speak through her the same message, without him telling her about it.

    Today is the day, to grow more and more closely to God, Ephesians 1:17-18, 19-20
    And I agree with onego2dblu that we also obey what God reveals to us, we grow more and more in knowledge of and wisdom and grace of Jesus as we do what He tells us. But Gary, you made it look as if you talked to Bratimus directly.
    I pray that we all increase our intimate relation with God, that we can hear His voice more and more.

  55. foreverblessed says:

    Joyandshalom, if you do a search on biblegateway, you will find their website (it goes with the dotcom). Do a keyword search on fleece, and you get Judges 6, it is very easy. I still have a big concordance at home, but since this website, it is waiting there for the times internet does not work. (It maybe wise to take measurements for harder times, but that is another topic).

  56. oneg2dblu says:

    foreverblessed… just as I am speaking to you directly now, our forum is an open one. Allowing others just as you have done, to engage at any time.
    So, we here on this blog become open books of our personal experience, and relationship with Christ, and even our relationship with others here.
    For that we are all responsible, directed, and engaging as we feel encouraged, or pulling back as feel we should. We are in that respect, a family. We do have our differences of opinion, we share our likes and dislikes,we exchange ideas and we exchange many other forms of our humanity, hopefully within a godly context and a pursuit to benefit all. So, we get personal, we love. Each in our own way, some with gentle sweet voices, and others with more difficult to hear, tough even, but always within the god-given realm of giving even the bad tasting medicine, sometimes has to be given for the hearing and healing of all those we care about and love. Gary

  57. oneg2dblu says:

    I do trust that all our voices collectively represent His Voice in us! To God be the Glory!

  58. oneg2dblu says:

    Now… fleeces, floating axe heads, talking in an unknown language and expecting a known interpretation, are to me a form of delving into the super-natural.
    Beyond our simple human comprehension. If that is what you “personally require” to bring about confirmation that you are communicating with the Almighty God of the Bible, then you have been given a much different path
    then the one I’m on. For my prayers also include the miraculous possibility of unknown things happening, things I expect God to bring about that naturally don’t look promising, but by the Faith and Promisses He has already given me, I present to Him my requests. I have never asked Him to make me speak with unknown words,
    I have never put out a fleece of testing, or looked for a floating axe head, but I do expect the Miracles of God
    to be real and confirmed, through His Holy Word, and revealed it to me, in the living out of my life for Him. In that context, I am greatly blessed, and experiencing the miraculous changes He has brought about. To god be the Glory. Gary

  59. remarutho says:

    The Pharisees came to Jesus (Matthew 12:39, 16:1-4) demanding a sign that he was Messiah. For me it is sure and true that he is the Messiah of the universe. Jesus called the temple leaders a “wicked and adulterous generation.” Seeking a sign from God can be for wrong reasons.

    By laying out a fleece, I am asking God to direct me. I seek ministry in a different culture — out of the Bible belt into a place with many more pagan, New Age and atheist influences. I believe that God is directing me by his own hand, closing doors and opening doors according to his perfect will. I am praying for the Lord to continue to guide me step by step, and equip me as I go. It would be “smart” to stay where there are fewer challenges — not to go out to the cultural battlefield!

    I am laying out a fleece as Gideon did. He was a timid soul — and eventually proved to be weak in hs faith, when he set up an ephod as an idol (Judges 8:27) and led Israel astray. I am asking the Lord to keep me out of error as I make this journey.

    The angel of the Lord came to Gideon when the Midianites were oppressing Israel. He told Gideon that he was a mighty warrior. Gideon had trouble believing it (Judges 6:14). God commanded Gideon to form an army and move against Midian. The angel was sent to call Gideon to serve, and promised him victory. Gideon asked the Lord for a sign. The fleece story (Judges 6:36-40) is still controversial because it may be arrogant to lay one out. Asking for a sign may also never end, if the one seeking a sign can never decide anything anyway. God is gracious and loving. God knows our hearts before we pray. God will provide what is best. — Maru

  60. joyandshalom says:

    WOW!! It appears that “laying out a fleece” inspires as many differing opinions as the subject of tongues! (smile) Thank you “foreverblessed” for giving me the biblegateway site to research on. I am one who likes to research and then talk to my Lord Jesus about what I find as a result. I am surprised that I have never heard of the “fleece”, but judging by other responses, perhaps it is better that I had never known!! (smile)

  61. poohpity says:

    Maru, Matthew 2:16-17; 9:10-12; Mark 2:15-17

  62. poohpity says:

    oops that is the wrong verse in Matt 2 but Luke 15:2

  63. remarutho says:

    Hi Poopity —

    I agree that Jesus ate and spent time with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors. He surely calls us to do the same. It is wonderful to see the stirring of hearts and opinions at my open confession of laying out a fleece. My hunger and thirst to do as Christ would have me do is great — the time is short — and I find myself wondering from time to time if the church (the American church) is not engaging in the least important things just now. Something like “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

    I remain on my knees before my God concerning this change in my ministry…seeking his guidance day by day.

    In Him,
    Maru : > )

  64. poohpity says:

    Maru, I really chuckled at the thought of today’s church “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” and I have to say I totally agree if I am understanding you correctly. It seems the the most service is done within the church building rather than reaching out to those who Jesus spent the most time with. It is like a click within with no outreach to those we are taught to serve and share the wonderful work of the Cross.

  65. remarutho says:

    Poohpity —

    Amen Sister! The culture of the American Christian church makes me queasy sometimes. I have been acquainted with a few missionaries who return after a long tour in Africa or South America & plunge into reverse culture shock because of the attitudes and worldliness of the church here “inside the doors.”

    Yet, we have cause to rejoice in what Christ can do with a human heart and spirit. Remember how he transformed Paul and Peter and Mary Magdalene! He’s not done with us yet. Glory!


  66. joyandshalom says:

    Hi Maru & Poohpity,
    You have touched upon a subject that also makes me “queasy” and saddens my heart so much anymore that I declare myself as a “Believer in Jesus Christ” instead of a “Christian” because what does “Christian” mean anymore? It seems to include EVERYTHING from “Christian Cults” to the “Christian Emergent Church”. Lord helps us! I can only imagine the “reverse culture shock” of those returning missionaries. I would venture to say that they would have a harder mission field in the worldly church of the USA than African & South America!

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