Romans 8:26-27 In the same way the Spirit also 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; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Paul's main theme in Romans 8 has to do with unfolding the Christian's new inheritance in Jesus Christ (compare Romans 8:16-17). As one explores Romans 8:1-25, we find that those who are in Christ by faith have the following "new" heritage as His people:
1. New Position - Romans 8:1-4
2. New Guest - the Holy Spirit - Romans 8:5-11
3. New Relationship with God - Romans 8:12-17
4. New Hope Because of God - Romans 8:18-25
In today's post, we are going to consider principles for effective prayer as spelled out in Romans 8:23-27. What is a principle? Authors Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter in their book, "The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever", page 214, note:
"A principle is an eternal rule that governs the conditions God will bless and the ways He will respond in all revivals, such as prayer, repentance, seeking God, and being filled with the Holy Spirit."
Although their primary discussion is on the subject of revival, the inclusion of prayer and the overall idea of principles still apply. I include 8:23-25 along with Paul's main discussion of prayer in Romans 8:26-27 due to the fact that Paul begins Romans 8:26 with the phrase: "in the same way". Since Paul is dealing with the particulars of effective pray, we want to explore what it takes to have an effective prayer-life - since every person that trusts in Christ by faith has access to effective prayer. I know for my own sake, I all the time want to know how to be better and more effective in prayer. So with those thoughts in mind, let's consider for now the four particulars of effective prayer as we find them in Romans 8:23-28.
Persistent Expectation. Rom 8:23-25
Romans 8:23-25 emphasizes persistent eager expectation of what God can and will do. Note the underlined words: "And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it."
This eagerness of which Paul speaks flows over into Romans 8:26-28. Do we expect God to move in prayer? Whenever we observe Jesus praying in the Gospels, we find Him ever expecting the Father to both hear His prayers and to move in accordance to what He prays. Oftentimes I find my lack of asking God for specific requests stems from my lack of expectation that God will move on my behalf. James 4:2b reminds us: "You do not have because you do not ask."
Reliance on the Holy Spirit. Rom 8:26a
The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Encourager, in prayer (see John 14:26-28; 15:26). Four times we find reference to the Spirit in Romans 8:26-27 "In the same way the Spirit also 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; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." I'll admit that there are more times than not that I find myself not knowing how to pray. We have the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, Who is by nature God Himself. How we need Him! Praying in the Spirit means to pray in dependence upon Him. Jude 1:20 reminds us: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit." Praying in the Spirit involves praying with the Word. Before we close our eyes in prayer, we must make sure we have opened our eyes to read the words of scripture.
More next time.....