Who will pray on your behalf every single day, without you even having to ask? The best prayer partner ever, God.
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 through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)
Have you ever set about to pray, and had no idea what to say?
Perhaps you had a restless night and your brain can’t put two sentences together. Or you’ve been stressed out with a situation at work.
Maybe you’re struggling mightily with a particular temptation. There could be a situation you’re angry about and feel hypocritical for trying to pray.
Distracted, irritable, distant, sad. It can be just about anything that blocks your ability to pray on a given day. Which is a clue that it is vitally important.
So important, that God involves Himself in prayer on our behalf.
When we look closely, we find that it is through God Himself that we are empowered and equipped to walk the disciple’s path He wishes for His children. This is not any different with our prayer life.
It turns out God – in the person of the Holy Spirit – is there for us, being the best prayer partner we could ever hope for.
The Spirit Helps Us in our Weakness
This phrase is not in today’s text by accident.
It is not only that the Spirit helps us, but that He helps us “in our weakness”.
It is when we come to the realization that we are helpless creatures before God, that even the simplest prayers are out of our reach. We know so little what to pray for, or how to pray.
The Holy Spirit knows this about us and loves us enough to “intercede” for us.
The word intercede is defined as “intervene on behalf of another.”
The Holy Spirit literally steps in for us in prayer. And He does so with “wordless groans”.
Ponder that for a moment. His intercessions to the Father on our behalf are so raw, intimate, and boiled down to their purest essence, that the Holy Spirit does not even have to form actual words to communicate.
So even when we are struggling mightily to put a few words together, the Holy Spirit is there with us, loving us, interceding for us.
He Who Searches Our Hearts
He who searches our hearts is God the Father. God the Father hears our prayers, and he hears the prayers of the Spirit on our behalf.
God knows everything there is to know about us. He knew us from the moment we were conceived and knows all the days of our lives (Psalm 139:16).
God knows us so personally that He already knows what we need before we can even ask for it!
With this level of detailed, personal knowledge as our Creator, God the Father understands how the “wordless groans” of the Spirit pertain to our prayers – spoken and otherwise.
As the Father, God is who we bring our prayers to, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit Intercedes for God’s People
The disciples of Jesus Christ are God’s people. If you are a follower of Christ, the Spirit is interceding for you, having been gifted to you by Jesus Christ.
Jesus also intercedes for us, but in a bit of a different context.
We have records of Christ’s wonderful, heartfelt prayers for us during His earthly ministry.
We also find two other places in the New Testament where we are told Christ intercedes on our behalf.
While these intercessions may possibly take the form of prayers, they seem to have a different nature from the kind of intercessions made for us by the Holy Spirit.
First, we are reminded that no one will condemn us because Jesus died and rose for us, who is now at God’s right hand, “pleading” for us (Romans 8:34). Many translations say “interceding”, and some think this is talking about praying to the Father on our behalf as individuals.
Yet, it seems to be very specific to Christ’s role as our Savior here. Therefore the prayers appear to be of a specific nature, and for the total Body of Christ.
The second instance is similar to the first. However, in this second passage we understand Christ to be our Priest who “lasts forever” (Hebrews 7:23-25). And as in the first instance, the intercessions are understood to be for those He has saved.
While Christ’s intercessions may take on a different or more specific manner, the fact remains that there is a type of “intervening on behalf of another” that Christ is also taking to the Father for us.
Truly, the Trinitarian nature of God – God in 3 persons – is an incredible mystery. In today’s passage, we see God working in relationship between His 3 distinct persons. He surrounds, envelops, and undergirds our walk of faith in prayer, proving that God is truly the best prayer partner, ever.
More verses about our relationship with God in prayer:
Psalm 17:6; Psalm 145:18; Jeremiah 33:3; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; Hebrews 10:19-22; James 5:16-18