Have you ever really wanted to pray but found you did not know what to say? Or have you ever felt a strong burden to pray and didn’t even know what to pray about? If so, take heart, because if you are a Christian, then God the Holy Spirit will help you to pray when you cannot do it on your own.
Today’s passage in Romans 8 discusses the believer’s experience of Spirit-led prayer. Earlier in Romans 8, Paul talked about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in saving Christians from their sins and empowering them to live new lives in Christ. He explained that the Spirit’s presence and ongoing work in believers is proof of their status as God’s adopted sons and daughters. Now, in verses 26-27, Paul talks about how the Spirit helps God’s children to pray. There are times when we are weak and do not know how or what to pray (v. 26). Sometimes, all we can do is just groan from our souls – there are no words for our sighs and cries. But God hears those prayers! His Holy Spirit lives in us, and He makes “intercession for us,” which means that He carries our prayers to the Father even when we cannot voice them ourselves. The Spirit can and does intercede for us because He is God. The Spirit can search our hearts and communicate our desires and needs to God while communicating His will to us (v. 27). Nobody really understands exactly how this experience works, but every Christian can testify to times when they knew that the Spirit was guiding their prayers. As Jesus explained in John 3 to the Pharisee Nicodemus, we cannot see the Spirit, but we can see the effects of the Spirit as He works in our lives.
How do we access this type of Spirit-led prayer more often? By continually “walking in the Spirit” (Romans 8:1, 4). We spend time in God’s Word regularly, studying and meditating on it in quiet places on our own. The Holy Spirit then takes the Bible that He inspired and impresses specific life applications on our minds and hearts. This sharpens our prayers to be about God’s will instead of our own. The Spirit purifies our thoughts and wants as He brings Scripture alive to us. Then we obey what God has shown us in His Word by His Spirit, and we begin to experience the supernatural peace of God’s presence and favor. Our minds are being led by the Spirit instead of our sin natures, so we get God’s promises of “life and peace” (Romans 8:6). As we develop the habit of walking in the Spirit, we will then get to experience more of the amazing prayer times that Paul describes in today’s passage. Such intense prayer may not happen every day or week, but if you are walking in obedience to the Lord, there should be times when you feel and know that the Spirit is guiding your prayers. If you have been feeling spiritually dry for a long time, it may be that you need to get alone with God in His Word and listen for the still small voice of the Spirit applying biblical truth to your life. God promises us that “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Will you seek after God’s Spirit in prayer today?
The Text (Romans 8:26-27)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Questions to Think About
- Have you ever had any really intense times of prayer? What happened?
- What have you learned from listening to Christian mentors (parents, teachers, pastors, coaches, etc) share about their experiences with prayer?
- Are you there any sinful desires, attitudes, or behaviors that might be hurting your prayer life right now? What could you do to put yourself more in tune with the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance?