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 (Romans 8:26).
As a girl who often doted on her daddy, I used to imitate some of the things he did. Most summers, my dad, Fred Walter, was invited to speak at district conferences in other parts of the US, and we would travel so he could preach. Dad often drove until the wee hours of the morning, stopping to sleep for three or four hours in rest areas.
On one such journey I awoke around one o’clock in the morning and heard him whispering urgently. Quietly, I leaned forward and asked what he was saying. Serenity I’d never seen before flashed across his face. “I . . . was praying for someone,” Dad answered. “Also, praying safety over us as we travel.”
At the time, I had no clue what intercessory prayer was, so I ignored that and mulled over what I could do to help.
While I didn’t pray the most verbose prayer, I did pray that God would strengthen Daddy, keep him awake and alert long enough to reach the rest area, and give us safety on our journey. God granted my requests that night, and many other nights, birthing a spiritual journey I still enjoy today. So let’s examine what really happened that night.
First, Dad felt prompted to pray for someone else. Dad’s prayer and the urgency he felt were so strong that they woke a young girl from a deep slumber. As a result, this child learned the power of prayer and its aim against Satan’s realm. Ephesians 6:12 sheds more light on this: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (MEV).
I think Dad knew this principle as he prayed into that person’s life. Many nights I’ve wrestled with something so deep in my spirit that I needed to pray immediately. For example, one of my former co-workers came to me crying one night about her marriage. She and her husband had said and done things they weren’t proud of, but she loved him much and wanted to save that marriage.
I began a prayer journey of intercession with the woman. Not only did she and her husband work things out, they now have two children running around the house! My friend later told me that something inside her husband’s heart broke that night, and their trek to reconciliation began.
Second, Dad shared what he’d learned over the years regarding the Holy Spirit’s calling to salvation. Thanks to Dad telling me about his prayer that night, I developed a yearning to feel what he felt. This in turn left me wanting to know more about the force that not only evoked so many emotions but also brought on the pure joy I saw on his face.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and follow in baptism, God changes our hearts. The first time I witnessed a baptism, I watched as my sister’s friend was dunked in the water and rose up beaming as if a light were shining on her face! It reminded me a little of my dad’s face that night in the car all those years ago, so I started studying what it meant to become a Christian. The Spirit birthed something inside me after watching that baptism. Quietly, I pondered what Dad had taught me and where it might lead.
Third, Dad showed just how approachable Jesus can be. Because he shared what he’d been doing in prayer, I made a decision to imitate Dad and start praying myself. So my next question became “How do I keep heeding the Spirit’s call as I seek God’s answers for my life?”
I found the answer in Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” One part of this full armor is the “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). It’s important we put on God’s armor every day.
Once we are standing our ground, we are ready to intercede for others: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (v. 18).
One snowy Thanksgiving my family drove cross-country to visit Mom’s family. On our way home to Denver, Dad was deeply concerned that we wouldn’t return on time for him to start work, and he worried that we didn’t have any snow chains in the car.
Instantly, I knew I had to pray. I simply and earnestly prayed over Dad, our car, and our family inside. I don’t know how long I was praying when Dad reached back and shook my knee. When I opened my eyes, he pointed behind us. I glanced back to see three Department of Transportation employees blocking traffic from traversing the highway. We’d made it safely through!
“Were you praying?” Dad asked. I nodded, smiling.
He laughed. “Keep it up.” Dad boasted later that God’s power carried us through the snow-covered pass. While I’m sure I wasn’t the only Walter in our car praying that morning, I am certain that spiritual warfare is real on several levels — many much worse than a snowstorm.
Years later, about a month before Dad died, I was in a horrific auto accident with a semi-truck driver who’d fallen asleep behind the wheel. How God watched over us is a story for another time, but afterward I started having PTSD symptoms.
Five months later, two beloved sisters in Christ found out about my PTSD and prayed over me. While I’d seen lots of miracles in my lifetime, I’d never experienced one quite like this. Immediately, the PTSD left, and I haven’t been plagued since.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10, 11). I invite everyone to join me in putting on the full armor of God daily as we listen to the Holy Spirit’s cry, knowing the Holy One’s presence will help us stand strong and pray for others.
Laurie R. Crowson lives with her husband, Jody, and sons J. J. and Greg in Eugene, OR. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.