Of Unmade Beds and Unobserved Help

My bed is unmade and there are dishes in my sink.

The microwave might wish to meet with a cloth and I think the living room would appreciate an appointment with the duster.  Yet something urgent presses my heart today.

Today, I stare at a divinely cleared space—a (shockingly) rare and empty schedule and home, and know the task before me. It is intense, difficult; I must gather my every strength and all my resolve to carry out my calling.

I am called to spend the day in prayer.

But as I prepare my heart and take up God’s Word, the Spirit reminds me that prayer is a “striving together” (Romans 15:30–32). It is the “agonizing” labor of the soul.[1] It is to “join fervently in, formally, assist in a struggle,”[2] “to join with someone else in some severe effort… to join vigorously in.’”[3] Praying is a “struggling” on behalf of others (Colossians 4:12); it is the unobserved “help” of the “underworker.”[4]

It is the arduous, heart-breaking effort of stepping—willingly—into the yoke; the decision to tie oneself to the outcome, no matter the cost.

“The living child of God groans and sighs, because it is the expression of his wants—because it is a language which pours forth the feelings of his heart—because groans and sighs are pressed out of him by the heavy weight upon him. A man lying in the street with a heavy weight upon him will call for help; he does not say, ‘It is my duty to cry to the passersby for help;’ he cries for help because he wants to be delivered. A man with a broken leg does not say, ‘It is my duty to send for a surgeon;’ he wants him to set the limb. And a man in a raging disease does not say, ‘It is my duty to send for a physician;’ he wants him to heal his disease. So when God the Holy Spirit works in a child of God, he prays, not out of a sense of duty, but from a burdened heart; he prays, because he cannot but pray; he groans, because he cannot but groan; he sighs, because he must sigh, having an inward weight, an inward burden, an inward experience, in which, and out of which, he is compelled to call upon the Lord… Violence taketh the kingdom by force; hard knocks open mercy’s door; swift running overtakes the promise; hard wrestling wins the blessing.”[5]


[1] See “sunagonizomai (συναγωνίζομαι, 4865), “to strive together with” (sun)” used in Rom. 15:30, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, vol. 2, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 605.

[2] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Greek (New Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[3] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 447.

[4] See sunupourgeo (συνυπουργέω, 4943) denotes “to help together, join in helping, to serve with anyone as an underworker” (sun, “with,” hupourgeo, “to serve”; hupo, “under,” ergon, “work”); it is used in 2 Cor. 1:11. See W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, vol. 2, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 301.

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, The Saint and His Savior: The Progress of the Soul in the Knowledge of Jesus (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 115–117.

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3 thoughts on “Of Unmade Beds and Unobserved Help

  1. “The living child of God groans and sighs, because it is the expression of his wants—because it is a language which pours forth the feelings of his heart—because groans and sighs are pressed out of him by the heavy weight upon him.” At times this is all, no word, just tears and pain and trust, deep trust! Sometimes the prayers that have words come close, but often they do not. I need much prayer to desire prayer more! xo

  2. You are SO right! And I am so very, very grateful that He understands my heart when my words slip away! I will pray for you and your desire to “desire more prayer.” (love it!) I will pray for you as I pray for myself in that regard — I’m right there in the thick of that need myself. :o)

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