Chaplain-in-Chief's August Sermon
We continue our study of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and Prayer
Read Romans 8:26-27
You may have heard about the fellow who prayed this prayer:
“So far today, God, I've done all right. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I'm really glad about that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help. Thank you. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Many of us perhaps can identify with that prayer. One thing is for certain: we do realize the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian and in the life of a church. Therefore, this morning we want to consider the Holy Spirit and prayer.
The prophet Zachariah refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of supplication (Zechariah 12:10). The Apostle Paul states that we have access by the Holy Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). The Apostle Paul also indicates that we are to pray in the Spirit (6:18). Jude also tells us to pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).
The Holy Spirit therefore is our prayer partner. He makes our prayer life successful. As we understand His role in prayer, we will do more than have a religious ritual, we will learn what it means to pray with power. A key passage for this truth is Romans 8:26-27.
Paul begins this passage with three vital words: The Spirit helps (Rom. 8:26). We, of course, know about the Spirit. He is the Spirit of God. He brings us to salvation. He indwells us at the moment of salvation and makes the Christian life possible. He is our prayer partner.
The word helps is in the present tense. The Holy Spirit keeps on helping. The word means to help another with a heavy load. We have probably discovered by now there are some things in life that are just too heavy for us to bear alone. We know what it is to be burdened down by life’s events. The good news is we do not have to endure these burdens alone. The Holy Spirit helps.
Paul says the Holy Spirit helps in our weaknesses (Rom. 8:26). This signifies our state of being. We are by nature spiritually weak and need help continually. This is especially true in our prayer life
Notice carefully Paul’s next statement: we do not know what we should pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26). The word know is the Greek word “oida” which means to know by nature or to have a complete understanding or fullness of knowledge. This passage literally says, “We do not know what we should pray as it is necessary.” Thus, we do not know by nature how to pray or what to pray for.
Paul then gives us the secret to a powerful prayer life: the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:26).
This statement is in the present tense and means the Holy Spirit keeps on interceding for us; thus this is a continual ministry. This Holy Spirit ministry does not stop.
The Greek word translated intercession means “to meet with one for the purpose of approaching another to make supplication.” This, for example, is the work of a lawyer or an advocate. He meets with his client to dictate what the client is to say and how the case should be presented. He then goes with the client and makes supplication before the court on his behalf.
This the Holy Spirit does for us. He teaches us how to pray and what to pray for. He then goes with us to the Father helping us lift our prayers to the throne of grace.
Therefore before we approach the Father in prayer, we are to be taught of the Holy Spirit. Only a Spirit taught believer can really pray. We do not know what we need, but He does. We do not know how to ask of the Father, but He does. We allow Him to impress upon us our needs and then together we approach the Father. Thus prayer is to the Father, through the Son, and with the Holy Spirit. So the Spirit:
- Impresses us with the content of prayer: “This is what you need.”
- Helps us with the form of prayer; “This is how to ask.”
- Goes with us to the Father – He intercedes for us.
- Presents our needs to the Father. So while we ask the Father, the Holy Spirit asks also.
Paul states that the Spirit asks with groanings which cannot be uttered (Rom. 8:26). The literal translation is “with sighs that baffle words.” The work of the Holy Spirit goes beyond what can be expressed in mere human words. His ministry is one of those unspeakable or inexpressible works (II Cor. 9:15; 12:4).
Paul continues with these words: Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is (Rom. 8:27). God has complete knowledge and understanding of the human heart. He also knows the mind of the Spirit who dwells in our hearts. Those “sighs that baffle words” are completely understandable to God.
The Holy Spirit makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27). The word translated intercession in this verse is a different word from verse 26. This word literally means “to meet with another in order to converse.” Here we see the Holy Spirit meeting with the Father to converse with Him for the saints. This is God’s prayer plan of action for His people.
In our prayer life, the Holy Spirit goes beyond our ability. He asks things of the Father that we forget or that we overlook or that we miss or that we do not know we need. He meets with the Father to converse about us. He asks the Father to give us specific things that we need. As our intercessor He asks the Father to give us what will be for our good and God’s glory. The Holy Spirit prays as our substitute and thus on our behalf. He lifts our burdens to the throne of grace.
When we pray we open ourselves to a very special ministry of the Holy Spirit. We are to approach Him that He might impress us with our needs, help us formulate these needs into a request, and go with us to the Father. Then as we ask of the Father, the Holy Spirit asks also.
The Holy Spirit also meets with the Father to ask for those things we overlook or those things we do not realize we need. He always asks for what is best. Let us therefore learn to pray in the Spirit.