Scripture tells us that it’s a very good thing we have been connected to heaven by Holy Spirit because Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray (Rom. 8:26). Sometimes all we have are “wordless groans,” and yet, heaven hears them because of the Spirit’s interpretation. This is a great comfort to me at those times.
But there are some issues the Bible directs us to pray about, and Jesus himself guides us in his teachings. The Lord’s Prayer, for example is an explicit answer to the request, “Rabbi, teach us to pray.” We are always praying well when we pray according to his direct instruction.
In other passages, the focus of prayer is implied, and must be properly discerned. John 6 is a gold mine in this respect, especially in the area of how to pray for unbelievers. I will present excerpts from this teaching of Jesus, followed by what to me would be an appropriate responsive prayer:
When some in the crowd ask, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answers, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
I pray that all who wish to do God’s work would believe in Jesus, the one he sent.
“….it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
I pray that all would hunger for Jesus, the true bread of heaven, and be filled with life.
“Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
I pray that all would believe in Christ and never thirst again.
All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
I pray that all will come to the Father, never to be driven from his presence.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
I pray that all will behold the Son, believe in him, gain eternal life, and be raised up at the last day.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.”
Father, would you draw many to you in these last days, for your glory?
“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.
Father, may all receive your teaching and come to Jesus.
The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
Let those who have been resisting your words begin to believe and receive Spirit and life.
When all we have is a groan, he receives our groaning. And whenever he shows us his heart, as in this passage, we can pray according to the desire of his heart.
As we do, may his desires become our own.