Sometimes I sin in ways I don't understand. I say something or do something selfish without any regard to how it may affect God or others.
I confess those specific sins and ask for forgiveness, but I know something more is needed. I know that underneath the overt sin lies another sin. Whatever that sin is, it has led me to commit the sin I am confessing. The problem is: I can't quite figure out what it is. As much as I want to, I can't dig deep enough to get it out in the open. I can't find the words to articulate it.
I want to repent; I want to confess; but how can I, when I can't put my finger on my sin?
I could pray, "Forgive me of all the sins I don't know about", but it feels so inadequate.
I could pray, "Listen to my heart", but I think that's the problem. My heart isn't right, and I don't know what is wrong with it.
During such times of frustrating prayer, I take some comfort in Romans 8:26-27...
"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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" (NIV).
God knows I want to be right in my heart. He knows I want to repent and confess the sins I can't even articulate. When I am in a place where I cannot do it, his Spirit helps by going to the Father on my behalf to express the words I cannot find within my limited vocabulary. At that point, I can only thank God for the Holy Spirit and his help.