Here are some lesson notes about one aspect of prayer. There are probably some choppy lines in here, and some mistakes, but I think you can get the general idea.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
A wheelbarrow is for loading stuff up, and moving it somewhere and dumping it out.
You’ve probably seen children load up a wheelbarrow with 2 or 3 shovels full and say, that’s as much as I can handle and dump it.
Then you’ve seen strong Grown ups out there who can get that puppy heaped up.
Our HEART is our wheelbarrow, it’s what carries our cares to God.
Jesus’ invitation to come to him was not an invitation to be brought physically near to him, but to draw near to Him with our HEARTS!
As most of you know, my family just began attending a private school recently… They have quite a workload… among their tasks this year is to memorize the entirety of Romans 8!
Look at Romans 8 in relation to this topic of unloading things on God.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is (lit., “about”) to be revealed to us.
So, here’s Paul and his associates suffering under the extreme pressure of the day!
He says, “We GROAN”, if you look there in verse 23…
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
Paul says, It’s so BAD that even we who hope in Christ GROAN!
There’s a heavy burden being carried by the first century Christians.
Daniel, in Daniel 12 talked about a “great tribulation” that would take place shortly before the power of the holy people was completely shattered!
Jesus, in Matthew 24, talked about a great tribulation that would take place before the temple was torn down.
What caused groaning?
There was a great tribulation. The word tribulation means “PRESSURE”!
Crushing pressure. It’s the word they used to describe when they put the grapes in the vat and stomped them!
It described what happened when they took the cut down grain and put them UNDER the wagon loaded with rocks and stones to CRUSH the wheat and the chaff!
This is the word that was used. “Great Tribulation”= Great Pressure.
There was governmental pressure. Do it our way or we’ll throw you in Jail. Torturing Christians out of confession to Christ.
There was family oppression. Loss of affection. Disowning- You’re not my son anymore… not my daughter anymore.
Jesus even said that “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.” Matt. 10:21
There was societal pressure. Christians were becoming outcasts from the society that once embraced them. Now they were being considered unclean.
The neighbors that used to be your friends won’t even look and talk to you.
All of this because you’re following Jesus. That’s a LOAD to bear.
There was economic pressure. They won’t let you work. If you are in a craft trade, they won’t buy what you make. They won’t sell to you.
A lot of pressure being a Christian in this period of time when Paul says “we GROAN!”
Of course, there was the religious pressure. The Hebrew writer addresses the extent of that pressure… that even Christians were starting to abandon Christianity and go back to Judaism because of the pressure to conform and to comply.
Paul says “WE GROAN”
This word groan was used to talk about the uncontrollable groaning of a woman in the pains of childbirth.
During this interval, as this new nation, this new kingdom was giving birth out of the old kingdom of Israel, these Christians were for that generation subjected to a great amount of pressure, exposed to a load that weighed the heart down, heartache as you see people you love not even wanting to talk to you anymore.
Does God care?
I know the pressures I go through in life are small compared to these people, but that was so long ago that mine seem very real to me!
They seem crushing to me, they seem powerful to me. And I have the same question..
Does God care? When life is crushing my heart and weighing it down so that I can’t help but groan!
In Acts 7, as Stephen is recounting the story of Israel’s struggles to be FORMED, in acts 7 at verse 31, this is the nation of Israel actually before they were BORN out of Egyptian captivity.
God appeared to Moses in a flame of a burning thorn bush… in verse 31..
31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’
If you were Moses, would you have wondered right here, why are THEY being pressed in captivity if you are their God? Didn’t He care about them?
32- Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33 But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their GROANS, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’
So God said, I’m going to do something about My people because I’ve heard their Groaning and I care about that!
In Exodus 6:5, same story, but one little detail is added… God says that he remembered the covenant he made with them!
God made a covenant, He made a promise to Abraham Isaac and Jacob, he remembered that and He said he would respond to that.
Consider Judges 2.
We know that Israel was delivered and Egypt died in the Red Sea and Israel went out to form a great nation. And they are led through the wilderness and now, they’ve come into the promised land. So, here in Judges 2, rather than being faithful to this God who cared enough to deliver them from their hardship, they veered off the path of God.
In Judges 2:16 Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them.
What happened was Israel abandoned God. “We can live life without God!” You probably know people like that.
They abandoned God, and God let them live life without Him so that allowed the nations to come into Israel and do what they wanted to do.
And under THAT pressure, Israel cried out to God, and God sent them judges to deliver them.
17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers.(Abe, Isaac, Jacob)
18 When the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord
(even though the faithfulness of these people was like the teeth of a saw blade… faithful, not faithful, faithful, not faithful…)
Their lack of faith brought about challenges of life, which were a heavy burden on them. These people had been disobedient to God, they deserved what they were getting and it was HARD on them, and burdensome. By their SIN they were WEARY and HEAVY LADEN!
But with all that
it says, “For The Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them.”
We might say, well these people were getting what they deserved, let them go through it… But God was MOVED to PITY because of the groaning of his people who were getting what they deserved.
I’m asking the question… Does God CARE when my heart is breaking? When life is such a heavy load, I feel like I’m going to break.
This verse says he was moved to pity.
Let’s look at another example, not to be redundant but to effectively PROVE that this is a CHARACTER trait of God THROUGHOUT history… not just in particular points in time!
Psalm 12 is a psalm of David.
For the choir director; [a]upon an eight-stringed lyre. A Psalm of David.
12 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases to be,
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
What happens when men in society become less and less God fearing, and more and more self indulgent?
What happens to the God-fearing man in that society? He’s taken advantage of, he’s crushed, he’s ridiculed, laws are passed which make it difficult for him to live a life thats pleasing to God.
David is seeing it happen in his society.
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
2 They speak [b]falsehood to one another;
With flattering [c]lips and with a double heart they speak.
3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
4 Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
These people are saying, I’m going to make an argument against you, David and you’re not going to be able to withstand it.
I’m going to drag you to court and make an accusation against you! I know a lot of good lawyers that will be on my side to make a strong case, and you won’t be able to handle it!
There are wicked people that live in our society and we are not immune to the bad things that they do!
5 “Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy,
Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”
Whether it was in the time that Israel was being formed as a nation, whether it was in the ugly time early in their nation with the judges, or whether it was in the time of the kings… in every SINGLE place where there was GROANING AND GOD’S PEOPLE… there was a heart of COMPASSION and PITY in GOD!
What God says in every place is… I care about my people!
And what I’m trying to say is that you bring your cares to God today and God still cares just like He always has because that’s who He is and He doesn’t change.
He’s moved to pity by those things that cause you to groan! By those things that seem to crush your heart!
Man does have burdens.
David, in Psalm 32, talked about the burden of guilt that he brought upon HIMSELF through sin.
You’ve made mistakes. You’ve done things. and You maybe feel to stained to talk to God about it, but it feels like it’s crushing your bones, maybe there’s literally aching in your bones.
That’s how David was. Psalm 32:3 When I kept silent about my sin, my [b]body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My [d]vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. [e]Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the [f]guilt of my sin.
There’s healing when we give it to God!
Sometimes we immerse ourselves in our own Groaning!
We do things to ourself that hurt.
Sometimes it not even necessarily sin, it might just be something dumb I did. Maybe I committed myself to something I can’t handle, etc.
4- For my iniquities are gone over my head;
As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me.
5 My [a]wounds grow foul and fester
Because of my folly.
6 I am bent over and greatly bowed down;
I go mourning all day long.
7 For my loins are filled with burning,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am benumbed and [b]badly crushed;
I [c]groan because of the [d]agitation of my heart.
Some of us have been there.. and done something so foolish, so self indulgent, that the results were crushing to you.
None of us are immune to doing something that burdens us after we’ve done it.
Picture a person that has an affair and then their whole world is torn apart. Well that’s sin… but it’s also folly. But then their whole world begins to dissolve and their heart breaks and its hard to know how to handle that.
We do things like that where we NEED God to be compassionate toward us!
Sometimes we look at the state of the affairs of the kingdom of God.
Ezekiel 9 (In Ezekiel 8-11, the prophet had a picture of the impending doom, the Babylonian invasion that would tear their temple down, but Ezekiel had a vision where God lets him know before I tear that temple down I’m going to do one thing… look in Ezekiel 9:4)
4 The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”
We live in a world that is corrupt. And we see people doing corrupt things.
How do you feel about that?
Here’s one tempting response.
I just don’t have a big enough heart. I’ve grown a wall around my heart and I don’t let it through.
Do we just try to keep ourselves hidden like a hermit, so we don’t let ourselves feel the pain of the world we live in?
The devastation of lives…(maybe you’ve seen those before and after pictures of people who have been on crack for a year?)
And you think, how could that happen to a person?
And you may be tempted to say, I don’t care… that’s not me. we might want to shield and buffer ourselves against dealing with the realities of corruption in our society.
But God says, before I destroy Jerusalem by the Babylonians, I want you to know I went through my people and I put a mark (not a literal mark… but He took note) of everyone in this society that SIGHS and GROANS over the abominations that are being committed.
Sometimes what’s going on around us it too heavy for our hearts and we groan under the load.
The mistake we make is choosing not to bear the load!
We don’t let it enter our heart because its too great to carry. It’s like having a wheelbarrow there and not using it because we feel like the load will crush us.
But the thing we need to learn to do is go to Jesus… take the load all the WAY to HIM and say… HERE! Please carry this for me!
We have a corrupt government. The prophets said, Woe to those who call good evil, and evil good. You can look at our situation today and say, Oh NO (That’s probably an equivalent to the word “Woe”, just an expression like Oh NO, Oh no, that’s what’s happening today! Good things are called HATE and hateful things are called TOLERANCE.
We have family issues. If its not happening in your immediate family, it’s crushing you probably because of what some RELATIVES are going through!
We are not immune to being crushed by family issues.
Physical health issues are a hard burden to bear!
Continual physical Pain can dull your faith~ can make you feel a burden that you’re tired of bearing. Simply what’s going on in your physical is a burden that we GROAN under.
In 2 Peter 2, learn something about Lot you might not have known before Peter revealed it. Lot’s the guy that wanted to live in the well-watered valley near Sodom and Gomorrah, so Abraham chose the stuff that wasn’t quite as lush.
But it COSTS LOT a lot because the well-watered place was also near a very morally bankrupt city!
7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
OPPRESSED by Sensual conduct of Unprincipled men.
Are there unprincipled men in our society? How far do you have to look?
Lot was oppressed by that. It wasn’t just something he accepted as normal… he was oppressed by that.
8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),
There’s a lot of stuff that can load us down, and bring pain and we might choose to say, I’m not going to bear it.
But we should say, I’m not going to bear it alone, I’m going to take it to God!
Let’s go back to our Romans passage.
Romans 8:26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness.
What is our weakness? So often, Our weakness is us… Our emotions in attempting to handle life’s challenges.
Remember we are dealing with a people that were being burdened by an oppressive society, by the hatred and animosity persecution and torture, the alienation of family and all those things that were going on!
Paul says… “for we do not know how to pray as we should”
I don’t know how to pray about this… I don’t know what to say about that!
Ever had a situation where you need SOMETHING, but you just don’t know what to ask God for in this case?
If I were wise I would ask for this and this… but I’m not that wise… I can’t handle even knowing what I need in this situation!
We don’t always know how to pray as we should.
Now this next little phrase, there may be an alternative translation that helps us make sense of this thought.
Because it may be that the Holy Spirit here is interceding by using groaning not able to be worded… but ….
isn’t it true that WE are the ones that aren’t able to express what’s on OUR hearts!
So, one translation reads this way…
Now in the same way the Spirit joins in helping our weakness, for we do not know this… how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf for unutterable groanings”
Up in verse 23, Paul had said, even we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we GROAN!
And sometimes we can’t put those groanings to words but- THE HOLY SPIRIT can!
He intercedes for OUR unutterable groanings. He takes those groans that you can’t quite articulate and he takes them to God on our behalf.
It’s like a powerlift. Load that thing up as heavy as you need, because the Spirit can carry it to God for you.
You put a little shovel full in your wheelbarrow and wheel that to God, guess where the rest of the burden is? It’s still in YOUR HEART!
Even though you don’t put it in your conscious mind it’s still there.
Do you know people that could take a load off? I mean, people that you can just see it and feel it, they’re weary and heavy laden, and most often- they take it out on themselves or try to dump it off on you or someone else!
But when you take it to God, the Spirit will take it ALL into God’s lap.
He’s the one that can take what I can’t put into words, I can’t formulate a solution.. I don’t know how to solve the problems going on around me, or the problems in our nation… I don’t know how to lead people to a safe space..
But I know that GOD knows how!
I don’t know how to deal with the COMPLICATED problems that crop up in families when things get cross and there’s this big history behind it. God knows how!
If I keep it in my heart and I don’t take it to God, I don’t get an answer back!
I can’t get an answer back!
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God
I don’t know how GOD does that, do you?
If I know how He did it, maybe I wouldn’t need Him to do it.
But I don’t and I do!
That is, I don’t know how he does it, I do need him to do it for me.
He works ALL THINGS TOGETHER for GOD, for those who are called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.
That’s an essential element.. I’m not called according to the way I want to do things… I’m called according to the way that God wants to do things!
If I acknowledge that, while I’m taking whatever is weighing me down and say, I’m going to put this in my heart and take it to God, because I want it to be done HIS WAY!
In YOUR TIME, God.
I’m giving it to God because I know that He can work it together for Good!
There is a danger in disconnecting. Where we don’t let ourselves acknowledge the difficulty. Not going to think about those things because they just start to crush me.
If you don’t ACKNOWLEDGE it, if you SUPPRESS the groan, you’ll have NOTHING to give to God!
You have to have the GROAN to Give to God.
Let your mind connect with the difficulties you’re experiencing in order to Go and Give it to God!
Then you’ll have something to give to God, if not you get to keep it yourself!
We tend to want to hide the pain… because we don’t want our heart to ache.. because that’s not pleasant.
But we need to embrace the ache so the Spirit can intercede for us.
It will put passion in your prayer…Take it from “now I lay me down to sleep or Bless this meal” to “Father, I need your help!”
Why Go to God? Because Jesus is asking us to come to bring him our weary and heavy-laden heart.