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We are continuing on with our discussion on the Holy Spirit. I wanted to touch on an issue now, while we are on the subject of the Holy Spirit’s power and we may spend more time on it later and that’s the issue of Spirit empowered prayer.
“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
While this subject doesn’t seem to come up much (I think it has to do with the lack of emphasis on prayer in most churches), this is very important. Let’s take this verse apart and see what it has to offer us.
- We are weak. The first part of this verse says the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. I think we need to first recognize that there are no super humans or perfect people. I think in order to be a Christian, you must first admit your faults. And only by admitting them can you come to the place where God can use them for his glory. I know that sounds backwards. Isn’t he supposed to use our strengths? Yes and no. Obviously God will use our strengths, but He typically likes to use our weaknesses because then we know that it’s not by our own strength or power that God has done a mighty deed.
- We don’t know what to pray for. I know sometimes we come to the Lord with a prayer list a mile long. Sometimes we’ve got it all figured out. But sometimes we don’t know. We are broken, weary and wounded. Maybe the enemy has attacked us all week and by Friday we just don’t know what to pray. The Holy Spirit is there for us during these times. Even though we don’t even know where to start, God does and God can still use us for His glory.
- The Spirit intercedes for us. I think this is one of the reasons Jesus called the Holy Spirit – the helper. He helps us in our times of needs. He is doing the work in this verse. When we are weak and don’t even know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit is with us and he prays for us. What an amazing thought. We don’t have to have it all together in order to pray for God. God’s Spirit in us will pray for us.
- The Spirit prays with wordless groans. This last part of the verse is the most controversial. Depending on who you talk to, you may get a number of opinions on what this actually means. But let’s just keep it simple – sometimes words just won’t do. Sometimes we don’t actually have words to say. We struggle to find the right words. We struggle to even speak. If you’ve ever been in a real bad situation, you know what this looks like. You know what it’s like to groan in pain because of a situation. I believe as a Christian, that groaning is the Holy Spirit interceding for us. Even though we don’t know what we are saying, God’s Spirit has not left us. He is still with us and He is helping us.
The most effective way I can think to pray would be to pray with the Holy Spirit. Obviously all prayers are heard by God, but this verse gives us the encouragement that God will help us to pray when we need it – even if we don’t have the words.