Surely, we should all admit that as Paul, we do not always know what we should pray for as we ought. Paul is not saying that we know not that we should pray — we are told always to pray and to do so without ceasing, meaning we should never stop praying. He does not say how we are to pray. He is saying we know not WHAT we should pray for as we should.
We know the mechanics of praying: kneeling, on our face, looking up, hands folded, hands folded under the chin, eyes closed, eyes open, silently, vocally, Choose number one or all of the above?
When we pray for the sick, for example, or for someone to get saved, we know we should pray that someone gets well or that someone gets saved. What if it is God’s will that one not get well, or if it is not in God’s purpose that someone get saved. God may have a reason for allowing sickness and for not responding to our prayers for someone to get saved.
Scripture encourages us and confirms that we should know up front that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.
QUESTION: When you pray do you ever wonder why your prayers are so shallow and lack fervency? Or why the content seems to be missing something? Do you ask yourself, ‘why can I not pray like Brother Jim or sister Joan?’ Why is there no apparent and sensible content in my prayers? Why is the quality of my prayers are so infantile and immature sounding. Why are my prayers are so short in duration when some people say they pray for an hour or two? Or why does the content seem to me to be missing something? Why, is the quality of my prayers so infantile and immature sounding to me. You are probably like most of us!
DO YOU EVER WONDER What is the meaning of Romans 8:26, 27, 28?
READING: 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. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
I know for sure what these verses do not mean. They do not mean as I have wrongly and often stated that when we pray the Holy Spirit translates our prayers after he has cleaned them up a bit and added to our weak content an arbitrary and deeper meaning. And that He has given us the ability to ‘groan’ in words that we simply cannot articulate in spiritual manner. (this idea has led to much confusion especially on the subject of glossolalia).
QUESTION: Must we know God’s will and purposes in advance before we pray? Are we to remain silent and not say anything until we know what his will and purpose is? The answer is, we may never be privy to God’s will or purpose therefore we should pray as we are able and leave the rest to Him.
Let’s open this container of grace and drink of its contents knowing that the Holy Spirit will help us. After all His ministry is to “guide us into all truth.”
I. What is prayer?
A.T. Robertson, in my opinion the best source for word meanings in the New Testament says this in regards to prayer: He says that the word ‘pray’ in Romans 26 is an “Articular clause object of oidamen (we know) and indirect question with the deliberative aorist middle subjunctive proseuxōmetha, retained in the indirect question.”
My response to this is, HUH? Really? If you have the same reaction to this definition let’s together try to put the definition of ‘pray’ in words and in a framework that we may understand.
II. What is meant by infirmities? Example: Lk 13:11-there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. 13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
She suffered evidently from a genetic weakness – something she was born with. The woman suffered a spinal infirmity. She could not straighten up. But when the Lord touched her she “was made straight.” She, in herself could do nothing about her condition – the Lord “helped” her in her “weakness.”
As a side note this reminds us that spiritually we are all born in a bent position, and we can do nothing about it in ourselves. The Lord must and will “straighten” us out. It is not by our works of righteousness that we become saved but by the precious efficacious blood of Christ and His righteousness. Moving on…
Though we are born with a ‘spirit of bondage (infirmity), as Christians we have a renewed (always renewing) mind, but we remain genetically and spiritually infirmed requiring the constant help and attention of the Holy Spirit to ‘heal’ us of this ‘spirit.’
Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great so that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for.
III. The generally accepted explanation is: The Holy Spirit as a sanctifying Spirit works in us and stirs up our mind, purifying it. The Holy Spirit is a comforting Spirit, strengthening us to deal with our infirmities and discouragements. Zech 12:10 He is called: the spirit of grace and of supplications:
1.The Holy Spirit increases our love of God.
2.The Holy Spirit understands our infirmities and searches into our renewed mind to discover the desire of our hearts which we are unable to articulate.
3.The Holy Spirit makes intercession to Jehovah God in our behalf, acting as an advocate, helping our inability to articulate our prayers. While these things are true we are not totally satisfied in understanding.
Another explanation: As Christians we have a ‘renewed mind’ (Romans 12:2) but it is a mind under construction. This means that while our mind is renewed it still has a way to go. My thought on this is that our renewed minds are ‘under construction’ that this requires a consistent work of building up something until it is completed. Only The Holy Spirit can do this for us.
2 Co 10:17-18 — he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 18 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.
Pride is an awful thing when found in anyone but especially heinous when discovered in a Christian. Pride in a Christian is usually evident by a lack of spiritual growth which is obtained only through a growing understanding of God’s word. They harbor the false thought that “once saved always saved” gives them the notion that they need no further improvement.
When born again, salvation is assured but what egregious thinking it is to think that as ‘babes’ in Christ there is no need to grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of thinking insures nothing less than spiritual ignorance and stunted spiritual growth.
This thinking stresses that not only do we not know what to pray for as we ought but that we never will if we remain static in our spiritual growth.
2 Ti 2:15-17 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus.
Notice 8:27. And he (that is the Holy Spirit) that searcheth the hearts (no distinction here between ‘hearts’ and minds) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit.
A difficulty arises when the ‘he’ that searches the hearts is the same he that knows the mind of the Spirit and ‘he’is the same he that makes intercession for us. This appears to be the same person! What is the meaning?
The meaning is that the one who searches the hearts and the who knows the mind of the Spirit and the one who makes intercession according to the will of God IS God Notice that the ‘will of’ God is in parenthesis. Parenthesis means that the “will of”has been added by the translators. This then could and perhaps should, be read as he maketh intercession according to GOD!
Also see in verse 28 we read “according to his purpose”. The pronoun ‘His’ is coming before purpose. It is also in parenthesis, and in the original language it must read, ‘according to purpose’. So in 27 and 28 we have to determine whose ‘will’ belongs too and to whose purpose it is meant to be.
My take on this is that in both cases these statements refer to God and since the Holy Spirit is God then both agree as One God, and since God and the Spirit are persons of the Trinity the are in essence the same God. It makes sense then that the Spirit would know the mind of Himself! Havn’t you heard it said of a person who “knows not his own mind”. Meaning double minded. Surely the Holy Spirit “knows His own mind.”
Anyone who has a commentary and the ability to read the sentence structure in this verse as it is written in the Greek interlinear edition, will readily see that the word ‘will’ is not there, neither is the pronoun ‘his’.
IV. The conclusion of the matter, until proven otherwise is…
1.The Spirit help us in our weaknesses in prayer.
2. We know not what to pray for as we ought.
3.The Spirit knows his own mind for he has the mind of God because He is God.
4.The Spirit searches and knows the hearts of each one of us.
5.The Spirit makes intercession for us according to the will of God, that is his own will.
6. We know that in spite of our weakness in prayer that all things do work together for good and we should leave it at that.
7. We are of those who love God and called according to His purpose!
Knowing these things we should do our part and study to show ourselves approved as workman unto God and not end up shamed for our pride thinking we alone know the mind, will, and purpose of God, for we do not always know these things. We should go on in the exercise of daily praying and know that as we grow by the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit our prayers will be acceptable to God. God will always do right.
James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
So Be It!