Today we will see again that just as creation groans, so do
Christians within themselves. And just as hope sustains us in our suffering, so
does the Spirit sustain us in our weakness.
Read Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses
What does likewise/in the same way refer to? “. . . as hope
sustains Christians in their waiting, so also does the Spirit” (Moo, 139). Hope sustains us in our
sufferings, and the Holy Spirit sustains us in our weakness. What the Spirit does is bear a burden
along with us.
Weakness is not limited to prayer, but most likely refers to
the whole of the fallen human condition. Yet, our inability to pray as we ought
maybe best demonstrates our weakness. The Apostle introduces the issue of our weakness and then “zeroes-in-on”
our weakness in prayer. Why does he do that? “Prayer covers every aspect of our
need. . .” (Murray, 311). In all of our prayers we are weak. The issue is not
that we do not know how to pray, but that we do not know what to
pray. Maybe we do not know if we should pray for deliverance from suffering or strength
to endure it. I think that unless we have a clear understanding of Scripture to
apply to a certain situation, we should always pray, ‘If it is Your
will’ because we do not always know God’s will for every situation. This particular weakness of
our prayer lives cannot be overcome in this life. That is why we are pointed to the Spirit. With
His help this lack of ability in prayer is overcome.
The Spirit Himself makes intercession
The help of bearing a burden is found in the intercessory
ministry of the Holy Spirit. Because the language of the passage is that the Spirit “helps” (or comes
to aid, or bears along with us) we cannot say that the Spirit intercedes for us apart from our
involvement. It appears that what is meant is that when we pray, the Spirit aids our prayers.
Yet, “. . . All attention is focused on the Spirit. . .” (Moo, 525). He is the One who transforms our
The Spirit intercedes for us, “with groanings which cannot
be uttered.” These are “wordless” groans. Some have claimed that this refers to some type of
heavenly prayer language that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is related to the gift of
speaking in tongues. I find that to be a stretch. I’ll give you a few reasons why I believe that is
an incorrect interpretation.
1) The Scripture is clear that the gift of tongues was only
for some believers, but the Spirit’s intercessory ministry is for all. Those who claim a
special prayer language do not claim it for all believers, but only themselves. This leads to a second
2) Spiritual gifts are for the edification of the church,
not individuals. This intercession is not a “spiritual gift.” No one can biblically
claim that they have a special prayer language to use for their own benefit in
3) I take the phrase “which cannot be uttered” to mean “unspoken”
and yet tongues were definitely spoken. In conclusion, I do not believe that
verse 26 refers to some type of personal, heavenly prayer language that some have called
glossolalia. The groanings are those of believers, but the word is used
metaphorically. Just as the whole creation does not literally groan, neither do believers.
These are “wordless” groans that I take to me something like “longings” from within our hearts. These
groans are not audible, but are inaudible, unspoken, unexpressed longings of Christians who
desire the full restoration of all things. The Holy Spirit identifies with our sufferings and
longings by coming to our aid. This is the tension of the present age. We are saved, but not fully
saved. We must endure until the end. We suffer, long, wait, and pray full of hope and with the
help of the Spirit.
He who searches the hearts
If verse 26 teaches that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us
when we do not know what to pray for, then verse 27 teaches that His intercession is effective.
Searching the hearts of people is solely a divine activity.
From Old Testament to New Testament we are told time and again that God sees into our hearts. He
knows the counsel of our hearts. Yet, it is a good thing that the Father can see into our
hearts because that is the place where the Holy Spirit is interceding for us. At the time that this
intercession is taking place within us, it is undetectable to us. We do not know when this is taking
place, and we do not know what the Spirit is communicating to the Father. The Father knows
exactly what the Spirit is expressing because He knows the mind of the Spirit. What a great
passage on the Godhead. The three persons of the triune God know each other perfectly. They
are always in perfect accord. The Father knows precisely what the Spirit intends. The Father
knows and responds to His intentions and not ours so that what is good and right may be done for
us. As Martin Luther put it, “The counsel and will of God far excel our counsel and will.”
The Spirit prays for us and He knows the will of God
perfectly. He knows what we do not know at all times- the perfect will of God. He is the One who
makes intercession for the saints (those who have come to God by faith in Christ).
Conclusions and Applications
We have an intercessor in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ. He
is able to save all those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession
for them from the right hand of God. And yet, we have another. The Spirit also intercedes
for us from within our hearts. God sees into our depths where, in fact, the Spirit is
interceding for us.
Keep this in mind- apparently the Spirit does not constantly
intercede for us. Sometimes we are told ‘no’ in response to our own prayers. The Apostle Paul
was told no in response to his request that the thorn in his flesh be taken away.
The measure of God’s grace is not our weakness, but the love
of the Holy Spirit. God’s mercy toward us is not based on how well we pray, but how much the
Spirit cares for us.
I’ll leave you with three specific applications:
1) Make prayer a habit
2) Pray in a variety of ways: adoration, confession,
3) Trust the Spirit to perfect your imperfect prayers
Hope will sustain you in suffering. The Spirit will sustain
you in weakness.