You go to meet the CEO of a big Multinational Corporation. You are to present before him an ambitious project of yours. You meet his secretary first. You brief her about your project and seeks her assistance in fixing up an appointment with the boss.
As you are inside his office you start explaining. But the anxiety whether he will approve your project or not gets the better of you. You find communicating difficult. Then the good-hearted secretary gets into the act.
She supplies the missing words and helps clarify ideas. As she knows her boss well, she presents the ideas in a meaningful way. She not only highlights the value of the project but also tells the boss how it is going to benefit their Company.
When the meeting is over you thank the secretary for her timely assistance that helped you find favor with the boss.
This type of help happens often in our lives. And we truly appreciate the person who makes communicating with others easier for us.
Prayer is one of the highest forms of communication. It is also the simplest in the sense that even a child can pray and be heard by God. But as we grow up we find prayer a difficulty many times.
This happens because our motives in prayer can get corrupted mainly due to selfishness (Ref. James 4:3). And at other times it becomes difficult because we do not know what God’s will is in the matter.
Now we need to remember that it is God who has put in our hearts a desire to pray and the ability to pray. And Jesus taught that we should pray without giving up (Ref. Luke 18:1).
But Jesus also identified the chief difficulty in prayer: “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41b NIV). It talks about the reality that we are weak because we are human beings. But God still wants us to pray. And He has send a Helper to assist us in praying.
Paul, writing to the Romans says: “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 with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26,27 NIV).
Some great truths emerge from these verses:
First of all, God Himself helps us in our weakness. The Spirit of God Himself is helping us. So we have a God who not only longs to hear from us but also has send His Spirit to help us to pray.
Secondly, it talks about the fact that we do not know what we ought to pray for! That is surprising. We often think that we know what to pray for. But the fact is we do not know. Therefore we need the help of the Spirit of God to pray in the right way.
Thirdly, in the broader context of the passage, it seems that this kind of help comes much in the context of suffering. When you suffer much and long for God’s deliverance; the Spirit of God intercedes for you.
This kind of intercession can be described as “loaded” and “burdened.” Therefore it comes as groans rather than as words. The Spirit of God thus shares your burden and helps you find relief through some kind of intense praying that involves your entire being.
Finally, the good news is that this kind of prayer is always in tune with God’s will. You need not doubt when the Spirit of God is interceding for you. You can know for sure that the request made has been in accordance with God’s will in the matter.
But, is that all? No. Think for a moment. What if the Spirit of God never had a role in prayer? That would only mean great frustration in prayer.
For how can God hear prayer that is not in accordance with His will? And how can we pray according to His will without knowing it? More than that there are occasions in life when you are burdened and heavy with anguish and sorrow in your heart. Those are times when you can’t even utter a few words in prayer.
And those are times when, if you rely on the Spirit of God, you come to know the ministry of the Spirit of God as a Helper in prayer. Sadly, we often neglect to seek His help and guidance in prayer. O how greatly He would help if we would just ask for His help in prayer!
The Bible talks about one instance when a woman named Hannah was burdened with sorrow. It is written that she, in bitterness of soul, wept much and prayed to the Lord.
As she continued praying she was praying in her heart. Her lips moved. But no voice was heard. She was pouring out her soul before the Lord. She was praying out of her great anguish and grief (Ref. 1 Samuel 1:9–18).
This is a kind of praying that the Spirit of the Lord empowers. And God answered her request then and there. She was given assurance that her prayers were heard. And her face was no longer downcast.
The answer to this particular prayer was the boy, Samuel, who himself was a mighty man of prayer; who anointed the first two kings of Israel and influenced a nation for God.
The practical lesson is that God has send you the Holy Spirit to help you in prayer. Seek His help and and He shall share your burdens in prayer and present it effectively before the throne of God. And you shall no longer be in doubt about God’s will in your prayers!
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See more on The Holy Spirit in Lesson 22 in John’s Gospel Easy Notes Series.