This week we have been focusing on the gift of tongues. While this can be a very controversial topic, we’ve been trying to focus on what the Bible actually says on the subject. If you missed this week’s episode of the Everyday Jesus podcast, be sure to check it out here, by clicking on the play button below:
One of the common questions that seems to arise when it comes to speaking in tongues, is whether or not tongues are connected to what Paul says in Romans 8:26-27 about the Spirit interceding for us.
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. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
This passage, to be honest, is fairly vague. But, I believe that the vagueness is on purpose. When Paul is speaking about wordless groans here, it’s appropriate for him to not have many details to offer. First off, I would say that this verse doesn’t have anything specifically to do with praying in tongues, other than the fact that I do believe that the Spirit intercedes for us in both tongues and these “wordless groans” as Paul describes them.
Wordless groans are exactly as they sound, wordless. That’s why I believe that it’s not a variation of tongues, but something wholly different. What I believe Paul is talking about is deep intercessory prayer. This type of prayer can sometimes lead to people groaning like they are in pain or discomfort and literally I think the Spirit is in discomfort. Whatever the burden may be, the Spirit is deeply moved by this burden and these groans are the response to those deep emotions.
I love the fact that Paul says that the Spirit knows what to pray, even though “we do not know what we ought to pray for.” The Spirit knows, even when we don’t have the words. The Spirit knows even when we think we know, but really we don’t. The Spirit knows. I find a lot of peace in that. Sometimes when I’m praying I run my list of prayer concerns rather quickly, but if I pray in the Spirit, the Spirit can intercede for me or things that I have forgotten. The Spirit knows what to pray.
The fact that the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance to the will of God, is also comforting. God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. The Spirit prays for God’s will on the earth, God’s will for his people. When we are praying for God’s will, we know that the enemy is losing. The prayers of the Spirit are always in accordance with God’s will.
The practical application of this passage is to allow yourself to pray deeply for others. It’s also to allow yourself to pray deeply for yourself. And when you can’t find the words, allow the Spirit to pray through you, in accordance to the will of God, for yourself and others. There may be some deep groans. There may be some crying. But God gets the glory when we allow the Spirit to pray through us.