Dr. Dan Hayden •

Not knowing what to do can be a frustrating experience. In fact, that’s why we sometimes get frustrated with prayer—we don’t know what to pray. Not know—that’s our word for today.

Romans 8:26 addresses some of the problems we have with prayer. It says, “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray as we should…”

God says that we are ignorant in our prayers—we do not know what to pray as we should. It’s this ignorance in our prayers that I want to draw your attention to today. You see, we are very limited in our knowledge. There are many things we just don’t know. We are finite creatures and therefore we cannot see the big picture and all that is involved in our circumstances. We just can’t know things as God knows them.


The word “know” here in Romans 8:26 is the word oida, which means “fullness of knowledge; clean perception; knowing exactly what’s going on.” Then, the word “not” is used with this verb.

So God is saying we do not know fully what is happening—we do not perceive the situation as clearly as He does. We just don’t know, so we need help.

Ruth Graham, the wife of Billy Graham, once wrote, “If God had answered all my prayers as a young girl, I’d have married the wrong man seven times.” You see, too often in our prayers we are thinking in terms of personal fulfillment and relief from problems, and that automatically handicaps us in understanding what God may be seeking to accomplish through our prayers. We think we know what is best for us, but in reality, only God knows. So when you pray, don’t tell God what to do. Relax and let him do what is best for you, because you just don’t know.

Not knowing what to pray is OK. God knows, and He will take care of it!

For further study, see The Prayer Puzzle.