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. 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.
— Romans 8:26,27
Today I want to continue talking to you about the Holy Spirit’s role and responsibility in your life in the area of prayer. Yesterday we looked at several truths about this subject contained in Romans 8:26. Now I want to address how the Holy Spirit can intercede for and through you when you’re grappling with your inadequacies in prayer.
I shared that the word “intercession” is the Greek word huperentugchano, which means to fall into with. This word “intercession” in the Greek conveys the idea of a rescue operation and paints the picture of a person who comes upon someone who has fallen into some kind of quandary. Upon discovering the trapped person’s dilemma, he swiftly swings into action to rescue and deliver the one who’s in trouble.
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This word huperentugchano carries the idea of coming together in experience or meeting with. It can also mean to supplicate, which denotes a rescue operation in which one snatches and pulls a person out of imminent danger. So we could translate the phrase, “…the Spirit itself [Himself ] maketh intercession for us…” like this: “The Spirit Himself falls into our situation with us, meeting us in a common experience and rescuing us from our weakness.”
Now let’s look at the word “groanings” in this verse. It is the Greek word stenagmos, which means deep inward sighs and could be translated to vent. The picture this word paints is similar to a teapot of water placed on a stove. As you turn up the flame and the water begins to boil, the teapot lets out some steam and that little pot begins to whistle.
This Greek word stenagmos gives us insight into how this “intercession for us with groanings” takes place in us. We think our world is falling apart — that our fiery trial is so unbearable that we’re going to be consumed by the heat of that test. Of course, the devil stokes the fire in an attempt to convince us that we’re never going to walk free from that place of testing. And, indeed, we can begin to think it’s all over for us. But little do we know that as those flames are heating up, the Holy Spirit on the inside of us is getting angrier and angrier about the looming obstacle the enemy has placed before us. Then — suddenly — the Holy Spirit vents! The Holy Spirit sighs, and incredible prayers come rising up out of us. The Bible describes them as “groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Now what does this mean, “which cannot be uttered”?
First, I want to ask you — if someone stood before you and began groaning in agony, would you be able to hear him or her? All things being equal, yes, you would hear that person groaning.
There have been times in my life when I’ve gone before the Lord with a problem, and I’ve groaned so hard in prayer that although my prayer was uttered with my mouth, it was expressed without, or apart from, natural language or speech. In other words, I prayed with “groanings which cannot be uttered.”
We see an example of this in Jesus’ prayer life (see March 14), when He stood before Lazarus’ tomb and “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:33). What Jesus was experiencing wasn’t just a matter of human emotions, but a deep, inward form of prayer when Jesus’ spirit hooked up with the Holy Spirit in a powerful, supernatural expression of the Father’s will.
These “groanings which cannot be uttered” can also refer to speaking, or praying, in other tongues. This phrase in the Greek simply indicates that what is uttered doesn’t make sense to the human mind. So, you see, this has nothing to do with silent thoughts or with silent groanings and sighings. Rather, the groanings in Romans 8:26 are supernatural utterances that proceed from your spirit and come forth from your mouth as the Holy Spirit rises up within you to lift you up and rescue you from your plight. This is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit as your Partner in prayer!
Second, the first part of this verse says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities….” As we saw yesterday, the Greek word for “helpeth” — sunantilambano — conveys this same idea of partnership and cooperation. In the midst of our weaknesses when we are inadequate to get the job done, the Holy Spirit comes and says, “Let Me grab hold of that hindrance with you, and you and I will push against it together until it is moved completely out of your way.” This is how prayer becomes a twofold partnership between you and the Holy Spirit. He does this thing with you — in fact, He can’t do it without you!
In the trials of life and the situations you find yourself in that seem impossible and overwhelming, you must participate with the Holy Spirit as He intercedes on your behalf. The Holy Spirit is in you — in your spirit — grabbing those problems along with you. The devil may turn up the heat, but, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit begins to shove back and vent ! And like that teapot on a hot stove, as you’re praying, you might make some noise!
Romans 8:27 tells us how the Holy Spirit knows just what to pray to get the job done: “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.” The word “searcheth” here is similar to the Old Testament word “looketh” used in reference to God as He instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a king from the household of Jesse (see 1 Samuel 16:1-10). After Jesse had called in his sons, Samuel looked at Jesse’s firstborn, Eliab, and said, “…Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him” (v. 6). However, God saw things differently: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (v. 7).
As Samuel looked at each one of Jesse’s sons who had gathered before the prophet that day, the Lord said to Samuel, “No, it’s not him. He’s the wrong man for the job. You’re looking at outward characteristics, and you think you know what you want. But I look inwardly, at the heart.”
Both of these words “looketh” in First Samuel 16:7 and “searcheth” in Romans 8:27 indicate that God is looking for something that we wouldn’t think to look for. He looks beyond the surface — beyond what is shallow — right down to the need at the very deepest point.
The word “searcheth” in Romans 8:27 is translated from the Greek word ereunao, and it literally means to investigate, to examine, or to sift. It paints a picture of someone who’s going through stacks of material looking for something, so he carefully investigates, examines, and sifts through the materials as he searches for what he needs.
Verse 27 continues, “…He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit….” The word “spirit” in verse 27 is capitalized in the King James Version, but this word is not a proper noun in the Greek. You’d have to translate this Greek word in the context of the setting — and in this particular setting, the word “spirit” refers to the human spirit, not the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit who searches a person’s heart knows the “mind” of that person’s spirit.
Before we look at what the Holy Spirit knows about the mind of a person’s spirit, let’s look more closely at what it is He’s looking for as He “searcheth the hearts.” First, we know that He’s looking inward — within the heart — not outward, or just at the appearance of things. Second, we know He’s investigating and examining as He looks upon the heart. That’s how He knows the “mind” and the deepest, truest desires of a person’s human spirit.
Why do we need Someone to help us pray? Because we simply don’t know how to pray “as we ought” (v. 26)! For example, do you really know what the deepest desire of your heart is? Even if you think you know, could you agree that there’s probably a deeper desire of your heart than you’re even aware of right now? Well, the Spirit of God searches — investigates, examines, and sifts — through your heart for what He needs in order to pray for you. He looks for things you don’t even know to look for — things that, naturally speaking, you don’t have the ability to search out on your own. And He who searches the heart “…knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit…” (v. 27).
The word “mind” in this verse is translated from the Greek word that means frame of thinking. The Holy Spirit knows the mind of your spirit because He’s examining and sifting —investigating your heart to discover the will of God embedded deep within your innermost frame of thinking. The Holy Spirit is searching to see what your spirit desires or what dreams God has planted in your heart. And when He finds the deeply laid plans of God on the inside of you, He begins to pray about them according to God’s will.
Of course, you may already have a measure of understanding concerning some of those plans, but there’s no way you can instantly, automatically understand everything there is to know about them. But the Holy Spirit examines and investigates your heart and knows how to intercede effectually on your behalf regarding all that He finds there. Now you can see how valuable the Holy Spirit’s role is in your prayer life. This intercessory work has to be His responsibility because He’s the only One capable of accomplishing it!
Now let me ask you — have you ever been so perplexed by some challenge or dilemma that you said, “Lord, I don’t even know how to pray about this situation”? Are you facing difficulties right now at your workplace, in your business, in your family, or in your finances? Whatever situation you find yourself in, the Holy Spirit’s job is to fall into that situation with you and launch a rescue operation to deliver you out of confusion or danger and into the perfect will of God.
You may not know how to pray “as you ought,” but the Holy Spirit knows how to make intercession for you! He knows how to examine and investigate your heart until He takes hold of the frame of thinking of your spirit. You may be wondering, What am I going to do about this situation in my family? But the Holy Spirit knows just what the Lord wants to do. You may be concerned about a situation at work, and you’re asking, What about my job? Well, the Holy Spirit knows. Maybe you’re staring at a crossroads in your life, wondering which way to turn. The Holy Spirit knows!
I’m so thankful for the beautiful intercessory work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I can’t even recall all the times He has made intercession on my behalf to strengthen me in my weakness when I faced my own quandaries and crossroad moments and didn’t know what to do. And He wants to do the same for each one of us.
The Holy Spirit wants to help you pray about the deep, God-given desires of your heart. He knows better than you do what the plan of God is for your family, your job or business — and all the dreams He has placed in your heart. That means He knows about plans you may not yet be aware of. But the Holy Spirit hovers over those dreams and plans, and He knows the frame of thinking of all the secret places of your heart. Just ask, and the Holy Spirit will help you make the discoveries you need to know about your life and your future!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, I simply don’t know how to pray as I ought! I have to acknowledge that I don’t even know what the deepest desire of my heart is. Thank You for the Spirit of God who searches, investigates, examines, and sifts through my heart to discover the will of God that is embedded deep within my innermost being. Holy Spirit, it is my will to cooperate with You as You search to find the deeply laid plans of God inside me and to pray about them according to God’s will. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for interceding effectually on my behalf. I cannot even begin to calculate the value of Your great intercessory work in my prayer life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. He makes intercession on my behalf to strengthen me in my weakness when I face crossroad moments and don’t know what to do. Just as the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters when God created the earth, He hovers over my life to help me pray about the deep, God-given desires of my heart. The Holy Spirit knows better than I do what the plan of God is for my family, for my job or business — and for all the dreams He has placed inside me. He knows all the secret places of my heart. I simply ask Him, and the Holy Spirit helps me discover the precise wisdom I need to know in prayer about my life and my future!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- The Holy Spirit knows how to search for the exact will of God for your life. Have you ever allowed Him to do His investigative work in your heart to reveal the Father’s plan for you?
- There are so many desires buried deep in your heart, but the Holy Spirit knows how to locate them, unearth them, and reveal them to your mind. Have you experienced this revealing work of the Holy Spirit in your walk with God?
- We are helpless without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Have you opened your heart to yield to the Holy Spirit so that He can be the Helper He was sent to be in your life?