The Groaning of the Spirit
Bible Reading: Romans 8
Romans 8:26-27, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
As we’ve previously noted, it is impossible for a believer to live out the Christian life in a healthy and successful way apart from working of the Spirit of God. Jesus referred to Him as the Helper and we all desperately need His help. The word helper actually means one called alongside to help. The fact is, He is so close alongside, He actually indwells the believer in Christ. Preeminent of His helping ministries is mediating to us, in us and through us, the very presence of Christ. He always directs our hearts and thoughts to Christ—who He is, what He is to us, what He has done for us, what He is doing in us and what he has promised to us, etc. Everything we are given to do as believers is to be accomplished by the Spirit. We were convicted of sin by the Spirit. Our eyes were opened to the glory of Jesus by the Spirit. And it is by the Spirit we were born again. We understand truth only through the Spirit. We put off sin with the strength given by the Spirit. We are to worship in Spirit. And pray by the Spirit. We can only bear fruit by the Spirit. We are emboldened by the Spirit, gifted by the Spirit and are transformed by a work of the Spirit. Apart from the Spirit, it’d be impossible for us to take a single spiritual step forward in the heavenly direction. We desperately need Him to lead and empower us.
As we’ve seen, the Spirit has a role as the pledge of our inheritance. He knows where we are going and assures of its certainty. God has prepared a future home for us, which is glorious beyond what we can now even imagine. Eye hasn’t seen and ear hasn’t heard of its beauty. This work that God is doing—in saving us from our sins and safely delivering us to our heavenly home—is a divine miracle of heavenly proportions. The journey is filled with mountains and valleys and hazards of all kinds. We are like those wise men of old who could only hope to find their way as they were led along by a miraculous star. Only for us it is not a star which leads us, it is the Spirit of God. We groan with the expectation of the future redemption of our bodies. We are burdened by the reality of sin and suffering, and yearn for release from these earthly tents which are even now wearing out. We are troubled by so many things. Sometimes the journey is so tedious and difficult we lack neither the willingness nor strength to go on. Sometimes we struggle not just to ask for help in prayer, but to even know what to ask.
How good it is to know the Spirit of God is ever interceding for us! Creation is groaning. We are groaning. And the Spirit of God leads in the chorus. He knows of our destination and its glory. He is ever working in our hearts, leading us along God’s ordained pathway. We don’t know how to pray as we should, yet he knows. He’s the best of prayer partners. Never will He pray amiss. Never will His prayers fail in their appropriateness to our need. His prayers will always be in accordance with the will of God for us! He’s prayed for you in the past, He’s praying for you now and will pray you home to your heavenly destination. Through your good times and bad, through your happy and sad, through the all things spoken of in verse 28, until you are one day you are eternally “conformed to the image” of Christ (Romans 8:29).
Octavius Winslow has commented on this working of the Spirit, “Why are you not a ruin and a wreck?… Oh, it was the Spirit who helped you. Grieved, and wounded, and slighted a thousand times over though He has been, receiving at your hands the unkindest requital for the tenderest love, yet when your infirmity bowed you to the earth, and the sword entered your soul, He drew near, forgetting all your base ingratitude, and administered wine to your dejected spirit, and oil to your bleeding wound, and placed beneath you the encircling arms of His everlasting love.” How blessed we are by the Spirit’s interceding work!
O GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT – A Puritan Prayer
Thou who dost proceed from the Father and the Son, have mercy on me.
When thou did’st first hover over chaos, order came to birth, beauty robed the world, fruitfulness sprang forth.
Move, I pray thee, upon my disordered heart; Take away the infirmities of unruly desires and hateful lusts; Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief; Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth; Make it fragrant as the garden of paradise, rich with every goodly fruit, beautiful with heavenly grace, radiant with rays of divine light.
Fulfill in me the glory of thy divine offices; Be my comforter, light, guide, sanctifier; Take of the things of Christ and show them to my soul; Through thee may I daily learn more of his love, grace, compassion, faithfulness, beauty.
Lead me to the cross and show me his wounds,the hateful nature of evil, the power of Satan; May I there see my sins as the nails that transfixed him, the cords that bound him, the thorns that tore him, the sword that pierced him.
Help me to find in his death the reality and immensity of his love. Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in his, ‘It is finished’. Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of atonement achieved, expiation completed, satisfaction made, guilt done away, my debt paid, my sins forgiven, my person redeemed, my soul saved, hell vanquished, heaven opened, eternity made mine.
O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons. Write them upon my heart, that my walk be sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving; And suffer no devil’s device to beguile or deceive me. Amen.