“The Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
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We all have times when we need help with words. We fumble for the equivalent term in another language. What is the Russian word for “sorry” or the Chinese word for “please”?
But the greater struggle most of us have is to find the words to pray — words for God and words to God — when we are confused, discouraged, or wounded. Prayer can seem so hard at such times.
Loss, grief, fear, and failure all have a way of drying up our prayers. What do we say? How many times does the Father want to hear us say “Help”? Like the Psalmist, we might say: “I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears” (Psalm 6:6).
Then the Apostle Paul surprises us.
Romans 8 provides the triumphal climax of the gospel message. And just before Paul addresses “tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword” (Romans 8:35), he reminds us that the Holy Spirit takes up our cause before God! When we can say nothing, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He communicates to the Father the cries of our hearts and the groanings from our depths.
Here’s the good news.
Prayer does not need to be articulate. Neither must it be prolonged. Indeed, God does for us what we cannot even do for ourselves. It’s not about translating words, but expressing our hearts. He does not require that we rise above our pain. Instead, He makes profound provision for us. His Spirit, within us, intercedes for us.
Feel speechless today? Do words fail you? Is the heart heavy or overwhelmed?
Paul might propose that we simply pause in the Presence of God and let the Spirit of God express our heartache to the God of all hope and comfort.
Lent belongs not to those who are positive and put-together. It refocuses us on the One who carries our burdens when we can no longer carry them alone.