I confess that I’ve found myself rolling my eyes—maybe you have, too—when the leader of a church service or Bible study asks for prayer requests. I’m not so heartless that I act this way in response to genuine prayer requests, but you may have seen this, too: Someone raises their hand, acting desperate, finally waving their hand in the air and practically jumping up and down on the pew, and then (when called upon at last) they demurely murmur, “Unspoken.”
I will presume that you’re nicer than I am and dutifully respond immediately with prayer. But while you’re doing that, I’m most likely thinking, “What’s the point? Why bother? Either tell us or don’t, because how am I supposed to pray if I don’t know what you need?!”
Well, I often find myself chastened by the Holy Spirit when this attitude surfaces. Because the truth is, the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” In other words, we don’t need words to pray; we just need to tune in to the presence of God and offer what we can. The Holy Spirit does the rest.
So why do people have unspoken prayer requests? There are probably as many reasons as there are petitions. However, if you were to talk honestly with people, you might get one of these responses regarding their motivation.
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