Sunday October 28, 2007 -
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.”
Last week we consider three points: Why do we need the Spirit’s help in prayer? Second, is this weakness a sin? And third, How does the Holy Spirit help? We are continuing today with the third question - how does the Holy Spirit help with our weakness in prayer. The first way He helps is the involvement of the trinitarian Godhead. Jesus intercedes for us before the throne of God (Romans 8:34 - “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”). Then we studied the whole idea of you and I, with all our fallenness, being taken up into Christ - Colossians 3:1-3 - “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Also, Romans 8:31-33 - “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.”
We considered these thoughts under point 3(a) last week. Today we will consider two other ways we are deeply affected by the interceding ministry actualized by the work of the Holy Spirit under 3(b and c):
b) He intercedes with "groans that words cannot express" (26) Many times people take this to be a reference to praying in tongues. While that is a valid and important experience, this is probably not the best text to support it. The Greek words in this text mean words that are unspoken, rather than words spoken that go beyond our understanding. Tongues are words that are not understood by our own minds, but they are spoken. Paul is here referring to words that are never uttered, in English or any other language.
c) God then searches the depths of our hearts and comprehends the work of the Holy Spirit as He prays within us - Romans 8:27 - “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.” The text nowhere states we will be fully conscious of this whole process. But God the Father and the Holy Spirit share the same mind and heart. This is trinitarian prayer. A meaning and import are shared that makes those prayer times more powerful thaN we could ever put into words.
4) HOW CAN I INVOLVE MYSELF MORE FULLY IN THIS KIND OF PRAYER? Clearly, we do have a role to play. Notice the text. The Holy Spirit "helps us in our weakness" (26). Unlike the accomplished fact of being “in Christ” which we studied earlier, the Holy Spirit does not accomplish the entire process Himself. We have a role to play. Here are some steps:
a) We must totally submit ourselves to all areas of God's will as we pray - Paul gives us a perfect example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:9 - “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Paul had his own ideas of what he wanted God to do about his thorn in the flesh. But he came to accept what God wanted to do in total patience and trust. The Holy Spirit can reveal. Only you can comply. The test to see if you've really prayed with a fully submitted heart is a happy trust that will accept the way God answers - Philippians 4:6-7 - “....do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
b) To recognize the mind and desires of the Holy Spirit, learn how He works from the Word of God - Not every situation is spelled out in the Bible, but the broad heart and will of the Spirit of God can be traced and learned. Prayers that won't line up with the inner refining work of the Spirit will be more quickly spotted and filtered out. God wants to use our prayer times to teach us His ways and to train us in holiness.
Notice how this process in prayer was at work even in the life of Jesus while He was on earth - Hebrews 5:7-10 - “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,  being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
Being the Son of God, what could Jesus have possibly needed to learn from the Father while on earth? For the very first time He experienced of suffering for the sins of others as a man. There is great mystery here. But the text clearly links the prayer life of the man Christ Jesus to the learning and being “made perfect” as the source of eternal salvation.
c) We must stay long enough at prayer to allow the Holy Spirit some time to form the Father’s heart in us. We aren’t instantly perceptive to His inward work. He is working within the limitations of our own flesh. Time is an absolute must. Be patient. The Holy Spirit wants to pray power and truth and life within your heart.