Can you quote the rest of the verse? Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Sometimes we find ourselves praying a similar prayer: “Father, have mercy on ME, for I do not know what to do.” We know what the Bible tells us to do. It’s the judgment calls God doesn’t specifically address in the Bible that give us problems. 

The burdens of life can be so heavy that we don’t know what to ask God when we pray. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). We know that we should give thanks. We know that we should confess our sins. We know that we should pray for others. But when our hearts are breaking and we can’t see how we can make it through the trial we’re facing, we are at a loss for words when we pray. About all we can say is, “Lord, help”!

God listened to Solomon when he confessed his ignorance. That great king told God, “I do not know how to go out or come in” (I Kings 3:7). Solomon had just become king over thousands of people. He would have to make many decisions. He felt unqualified and overwhelmed. That is why he prayed for an understanding heart. 

If you’re a parent you can relate to how Solomon felt. You don’t manage as many people as he did, but the stress is just as real. Sometimes you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. At times it seems like there is no good way to handle a situation. 

If you are an elder in the church, you know this feeling all too well. You have to make tough decisions. Many times there is no resolution to a problem in the congregation. You look at the all the alternatives from every angle you can think of and pray about it and deliberate on it with the other elders for days, weeks, or months. And when the call is made, you don’t always feel sure it was the best decision.

Life is full of perplexing situations. Sometimes we just need to listen to the Bible more. Sometimes we need to learn from experience. Sometimes we need to be more patient. But there will always be moments when it is hard to see clearly. You just have to do the best you can and pray and trust in the providence of the good Lord.

It is a great comfort to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. We don’t know what to ask for or how to put it into words, but the Spirit makes intercession to God for us. 

Don’t forget what Paul says just after Romans 8:26: “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:27-28). 

-Kerry Duke, VP of Academics and Academic Affairs