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. (Romans 8:26)
Today’s big question: how does the Holy Spirit help us pray?
There is only one way we can come before the holy, awesome God of the universe—through the blood of Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross. Apart from Christ’s atoning work, we deserve condemnation as sinners before a Holy God, and our prayers would be rejected (Proverbs 15:8; Isaiah 1:15).
But Jesus is our High Priest who has offered Himself for our sin (Hebrews 5:7–10). Knowing this, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). This is the reason we pray in the name of Jesus.
In today’s verse, Paul clearly explains why we need the Holy Spirit’s help when we pray. We need the Spirit’s intercession because, left to ourselves, we are too weak. Due to our pride, we may not like to admit that we really don’t know as much as we think we do. In fact, Paul reveals that too often we don’t even know what or how to pray.
Not only are we weak in knowledge, but the burdens of life are too much to bear alone. In this life, believers face trials, temptations, and persecutions (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus told His followers that the world would hate them, so we shouldn’t be surprised when we face opposition for Christ’s sake (John 15:19). Even without the added persecutions, life is difficult because we live in a sin-cursed world (Genesis 3:17–19).
On our own, we struggle even to cry out to God for help. So, like the disciples of Jesus, we have to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Thankfully, God has given us His Holy Spirit as a Helper who “will teach you all things” (John 14:26). And when we don’t know how we should pray, “the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Thanks to the help of the Holy Spirit and our Savior’s sacrifice, we can come boldly in prayer before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). The Apostle Paul summarized it well: “For through [Christ] we [all] have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). May we continually pray in the Spirit, as Scripture commands:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)
Today’s big idea: we can pray to God the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit.
What to pray: thank God for His gift of the Holy Spirit to help us pray as we ought.