TO CHEW ON: "Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26
The verse I chose as our focus today is both mysterious and comforting. Mysterious in that it raises several questions:
- Is the Spirit praying here, or are we?
- What activity, on our part, does this deep intercessory prayer involve?
- Does this "groaning which cannot be uttered" mean that this is silent prayer or...?
"The Greek word translated helps is used in Luke 10:40 where Martha wants Mary to come and help her. The word does not indicate that the Holy Spirit prays instead of us, but that the Holy Spirit takes part with us and makes our weak prayers effective.
[...] If vs. 26 refers to "groaning" of the Holy Spirit which we cannot hear, then the verse simply gives encouragement that the Holy Spirit prays for us and adds effective prayer when we do not pray effectively. But if, as seems more likely, the verse refers to our "groaning" in prayer, then it means that those sighs, groans, loud 'cries and tears' - Hebrews 5:7- and other expressions of our hearts and spirits in prayer are taken by the Holy Spirit and made into effectual intercession before the throne of God" - Wayne Grudem, commentary on Romans in the New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1562.
And that's where the comfort lies. For when we are so overcome with grief or confusion, or outrage, or empathy or any number of emotions that all we can do is blubber, the Holy Spirit translates our inarticulate communication into effective intercession.
So let's bring our deep emotional issues to God, even if we don't know what to pray for or how to frame our prayer in words, confident that we have a divine prayer helper.
PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for this promise of your aid in our prayers. Help me to take You up on Your promise to intercede effectively and accurately when I don't know what to pray for. Amen.
MORE: More on the Spirit and prayer
"Unquestionably, all of us need massive help with praying aright. So set is our flesh against praying at all that the Helper's first task is to create in us even the basic desire to pray. He is the One who also spotlights for us the prayer-need or topic for prayer by creating a 'concern' within us" - Catherine Marshall (quoted in Prayer Powerpoints p. 100).
"Acknowledge you can't really pray without the direction and energy of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to utterly control you by His Spirit, receive by faith that He does, and thank Him" - Joy Dawson (quoted in Prayer Powerpoints p. 98).
"We wish to pray in the spirit and at the same time walk after the flesh, and this is impossible" - Andrew Murray (quoted in Prayer Powerpoints p. 98).*********
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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.