Romans 8:26-27 is a mountain of Bible truth and comfort on the subject of prayer. J. Oswald Sanders in his book, Cultivation of Christian Character says these words. “It is worthy of note that the Spirit’s assistance in prayer is more frequently mentioned than any of His other offices. All true praying springs from His activity in the heart. Both Paul and Jude teach that effective prayer is ‘praying in the Holy Spirit,’ which has been defined as praying ‘along the same lines, about the same things, in the same Name as the Holy Spirit.'” 1 In today’s post, we take a glimpse at this all important aspect of the Spirit’s work in the life of a believer.
Romans 8:26–27 (KJV) 26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
- These verses are a major help to a Christians prayer life.
- The truth is we do s’ not know how to pray as we should but, the Holy Spirit has come to help us.
- How does the Holy Spirit help us?
- He leads and guides us as to how we should pray about the situations of our lives.
- Assuming you already know how to pray about ‘your stuff’ voids the Holy Spirit’s ministry.
- So, a recognition of your inability along these lines and a looking to God for help is faith enough to activate the Spirit’s aid.
- The particular way the Spirit helps us by making intercession for us with groanings.
- The word ‘groanings’ means to plead or intercede on another’s behalf.
- One side note we should make is about the regrettable translation in the King James Version, ‘the Spirit itself.’
- The Holy Spirit is not an ‘it.’
- The Holy Spirit is a ‘He’.
- He, the Holy Spirit, ‘makes intercession for the saints.’
- This passage in Romans is the only occurrence of the word ‘intercession’ in the New Testament.
- The words ‘for us’ was an addition made by the translators.
- The two words do not occur in the Greek text.
- The Holy Spirit puts our prayers into a form that God the Father can respond to.
- He literally lifts our prayers to a higher level, to the level of heaven.
- On our own, we are simply unable to scale this height.
- What are these groanings Paul is referencing?
- Paul states these are of a form which cannot be uttered.
- The Greek word ‘uttered’ means unspoken, or unable to be expressed, inexpressible or unutterable.
- It means words which cannot be uttered in articulate speech.
- The English Standard Version translates ‘groanings which can’t be uttered’ as ‘too deep for words’.
The Father God Who Searches the Heart
- A great search of the hearts is part of the Jesus life.
- The word ‘search’s means to search, inquire, investigate, to learn something.
- The ‘he’ refers to the Father God who is the Great Heart Searcher.
1 Chronicles 28:9 (KJV) 9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
- Hover over these verses in Jeremiah 17:10, and Revelation 2:23.
- God knows every thought and intention of the heart.
Job 23:10 (KJV) 10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
- He knows everything about you (Psalm 139:2, 7-8).
- The Psalmists invited the Lord to do just this, search the heart.
Psalm 139:23 (KJV) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
- How does God search, investigate, or examine the heart of a man?
- God the Father exams us by testing and or proving our hearts.
Jeremiah 17:10 (KJV) 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Jeremiah 20:12 (KJV) 12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, And seest the reins and the heart, Let me see thy vengeance on them: For unto thee have I opened my cause.
- The Hebrew word ‘try’ is a verb and means to put to the test in order to ascertain the nature of something, including imperfections, faults, or other qualities.
- In the Old Testament God tried;
- Abraham in Genesis 22:1 and correlated in Hebrews 11:17.
- The children of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:2 and Deuteronomy 13:1-3.
- Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:30-31.
- Believers in Christ in 2 Corinthians 13:7.
The Father God Knows the Spirit
- As you read the pages of the New Testament, a wonderful God fact becomes apparent.
- When God searches the hearts of believers, He finds the Holy Spirit there ahead of Him.
- He who searches the heart knows the mind of the Spirit.
- In fact, the Father God searches the hearts of men but the Holy Spirit Himself searches the Father God.
1 Corinthians 2:10 (KJV) 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
- The Greek word ‘depth’ means that which is beneath the surface.
- The Godhead is so intertwined and in sync.
- They know each other intimately.
- The Father knows what is in the mind of the Spirit.
- The Spirit searches the things of God which are beneath the surface.
- The Greek word for ‘mind’ in the phrase ‘the mind of the Spirit’ means mindset or way of thinking.
- The Father God knows how and what the Holy Spirit is thinking.
- He anticipates the Spirit’s pleadings for the believer.
- God knows all.
- He knows the end from the beginning.
Isaiah 46:8–11 (KJV) 8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: Bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old: For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times the things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, And I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, The man that executeth my counsel from a far country: Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
- The heart searching by the Father God doesn’t stop at the information gained from a believer’s spirit man.
- It also includes the Father knowing the intercessory thoughts of the Holy Spirit who also indwells the same spirit of man.
The Spirit’s Intercessor Ministry
- And so, the Third Member of the Trinity makes intercession for the saints.
- The New Testament calls believers saints while they are living.
- Some churches wish to confer this status on a scarce few who have met some extreme devotional level after they die.
- The Greek word ‘hagios’ translated as saints here in Romans 8:27 means holy, consecrated, set apart, dedicated or devoted to God.
- All believers in Christ are called saints.
Romans 1:7 (KJV) 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The word ‘saints’ is an adjective.
- So the meaning of the word ‘saints’ describes your relationship to God.
- This is how prayer works for the saints.
- How comfortable it is to know what representation we have before God.
- You are a holy, consecrated, set apart, dedicated or devoted child of God.
- How absolutely comforting to know what representation we have before God.
The Will of God
- All of this process is according to the will of God.
- The Holy Spirit prays according to the will of God.
- Praying in His will is one key to a successful prayer life.
- The Holy Spirit never prays out of line with God or His Word.
Call to Action:
Now, that you are aware of the tremendous possibilities of a Spirit led prayer life, all you need to do is to look to Him for the help He is so willing to impart.
Question: How has the Holy Spirit helped you to pray about a situation you were facing? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
- J. Oswald Sanders, Cultivation of Christian Character, (Moody Press, Chicago; 1965), pp. 105-107 ↩