Psalms are heartfelt cries before God baring the soul and seeking His Divine intervention in our life, and the indwelling Holy Spirit induces similar groaning in prayer.
Praying in the Spirit – II
It becomes difficult for us ‘the earthen vessels’ to understand the reasons
behind God the Holy Spirit praying for and with us to God the Father and God
the Son. And this is aimed at getting us out of those difficult situations in
which we fall due to our own deliberate sinful actions. The absolute
truthfulness of this promise of God about neither leaving nor forsaking us gets
fulfilled through the active involvement of His Spirit in our daily lives. This
does not remain limited to teaching the mysteries of God’s Word but actively
help us in getting transformed.
Scripture message is that ‘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’ (Romans 8:27). In our fallen state we
do not know what to pray for but the Holy Spirit knows the will of God and
intercedes for us accordingly. For us God praying to God is strange for the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are One while being three. There are three
questions in this – What does the Holy Spirit pray for us? How does the Holy
Spirit pray for us? And why does the Holy Spirit pray for us?
What does the Holy Spirit pray for us? What does He ask for? –
First, He asks what we do not know how to ask; second, He asks for things that
we do not know about because of our weakness. Our weakness is taken up by Him
and third, He asks for things in accordance with God’s will. We know to pray
and ask for innumerable things as per the Word of God but the Holy Spirit prays
to fill in for our ignorance which is due to our weakness. This weakness could
be due to our limited human nature (Romans 6:19); weakness due to our sickness
though both are synonyms (Luke 5:15) and also weakness due to the adversities
that we face (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We wait for redemption of our bodies and
groan and this is the weakness of our fallen nature or bodily suffering. In
sickness we do not know the will of God whether He desires to extend the life
span or cause death. One of our viewers’ wife is suffering from total paralysis
and is bed ridden for a long time and in this what do we pray for, relief from
her sickness or relief from suffering?
Apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh and his prayer three times for he did not
know what pray for till the answer from God that ‘My grace is sufficient, My
power is manifested in your weakness’. In like manner Apostle Paul could not
understand what to ask for, ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain’.
Thus while life meant more work for God’s kingdom, death means to be with the
Lord in eternal unity, what to ask. John Bunyan, writer of the epic book, ‘The
Pilgrim’s Progress’ was put in jail for 12 years for not giving up preaching
the Word and he had 4 children and 1 of them was blind. He had the option to
agree to stop preaching and get freedom and in this what should have been Mrs.
Bunyan’s prayer? Apostle Paul was in Damascus with Jews planning to kill him
and watching the city gates and he agreed to be ‘lowered through the night in a
large basket’ through a window in the city wall. He faced stoning and beating
in other places then why did he agree to escape in this situation?
‘We want Christ to be magnified in our bodies whether by life or by
death’ (Philippians 1:20) and Holy Spirit knows and asks God to do the right
thing. The Holy Spirit does this praying for us because, firstly, we only know
the revealed will of God as per the Scripture but not the decretal or secret
will of God. Secondly, in my groaning and pain I am being watched and
understood by the Holy Spirit while God the Father searches my heart, I am not
alone in my suffering. Thirdly, God’s work in and for me is not limited to what
I can understand or think for ‘He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above
all that we ask or think’ and He does it without our knowledge (Ephesians
3:20-21). Fourth, in my weakness, sickness, loss, hardship or danger God’s
Spirit prays for me and when He is with me who can be against us? Fifth,
God the Father does not reject the prayers of God the Holy Spirit but hears and
answers them for both are in unity with each other.
The Holy Spirit prays that the outcome of our present situation will be that
which brings most glory to Christ even though we don’t know what that will be,
whether it be our life or our death.
How does the Holy Spirit pray for us? – ‘The
Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words’ whereas we
groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our
body’ (Romans 8:22-26). The Holy Spirit prompts and directs our groaning by
leading us to that place where we lose our ability to give words to our
specific longings. Holy Spirit as God has no problem to communicate
with God the Father or the Son, thus His groaning cannot be due to being at
a loss for words. He knows everything and He prompts and guides our groaning to
ask as per the will of God and then takes that to God giving meaning to our
groans. ‘He searches our hearts’ (Romans 8:27) therefore we groan and God the
Father searches while the Holy Spirit intercedes with ‘wordless groanings’
while God knows the ‘mind of the Spirit’. My groaning of pain and anguish are
initiated by the Holy Spirit. Linking this to verses 22-23 – ‘the whole
creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth’ – and ‘Not only the
creation but we ourselves who are the first-fruits of the Spirit groan
inwardly’ and in both these cases the groaning is ours.
Apostle Paul’s sufferings in the body caused this groaning and with it joy also
that the ‘thorn in the flesh’ may be affecting the body but the Holy Spirit is
transforming the soul and spirit ‘though our outward man is perishing, yet the
inner man is being renewed day by day’ (2 Corinthians 4:16). Thus this groaning
is our groaning caused by the Holy Spirit. ‘For you did not receive the spirit
of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we
cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15-16). The Spirit initiates these groaning
in our hearts and then joins us in our prayers to seek God’s will and though we
cry out ‘Abba, Father’ but it is called the witness of the Holy Spirit for He
awakens in me the sense of being adopted into the Family of the Creator. The
Holy Spirit reveals the mysteries of God’s Word instilling confidence within
us. We do not know what to ask – death or life for the suffering while HE knows
and moves in to awaken this groaning ‘too deep for words’ and the Father
understands the unspoken.
great blessing in this is that I do not have answers to many questions but God
understands my weaknesses and is ever ready to step in to guide, help and
strengthen me. He is my ‘Great and Remarkable Help’.
does the Holy Spirit pray for us? – After having written eleven
chapters of the book of Romans and revealing such great details, Apostle Paul
exclaimed, ‘Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Who has known
the mind of the LORD?’ (Romans 11:33-34). God the Holy Spirit initiates these
groaning to send towards the Father and the Son in heaven. We do not understand
but it all has a meaning for God, just like the sounds created by a child yet
learning to speak, for He knows His secret will that He is going to do. John
Calvin links this to the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit while another
view thinks the prayers of the Holy Spirit are totally different from the
prayers of believers.
why should God pray to God? – I know for a fact that I am foolish and
God only is wise and I will surrender to Him and let Him do what is best for
me. Lord Jesus desires to enter our hearts to feed us the Spiritual Manna.
Further He has promised great rewards to those who ‘overcome’, a reward of even
to sit with Him on His throne (Revelation 3:20-21). When He wants to bless us
with such wonderful rewards, how can His Spirit be idle in us and remain a mute
spectator while we in ignorance keep on seeking what is not for us and missing
out on all that the LORD has stored up for us in heaven? Moses commanded the
Israelites ‘to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart’
(Deuteronomy 11:13). What is ‘service of the heart? Prayer is about
cultivating an emotional connect, a real relationship with God. Rambam, the
Jewish sage, says that having ‘kavannah’ or deep intention, awareness and
devotion is vital in prayer. The Holy Spirit leads us into kavannah, that state
where we get positioned into Spirit induced prayers that change the course of
Hanna the mother of Prophet Samuel was barren and therefore ‘in
bitterness of soul and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Now Hannah
spoke in her heart; only her lips moved but her voice was not heard, therefore
Eli thought that she was drunk’. On being questioned she told Eli, the High
Priest, ‘I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have poured out my soul before the
LORD’ (1 Samuel 1:10-15). Hanna prayed from her heart for prayers direct our
hearts to God; her lips moved and we also must pronounce the words of prayer;
but her voice was not heard for it is wrong to raise one’s voice in prayers.
Silently spoken prayer brings tranquility in our lives for there is intimacy in
whispering because then it becomes a private conversation with God. That is
Service of the heart means total dependence on God as it happens in asking
under the urgings of the Holy Spirit, placing our needs before Him and
surrendering our own efforts at His feet. The Holy Spirit induced prayers bring
us closer to God emotionally and spiritually and provides nourishment for the
soul for then it is not a chore but real, raw and heartfelt. Prayer then has
the power to change, inspire and invigorate every aspect of our lives and
changes even our bodies causing healing of the body and soul relieving us from
diseases and weaknesses.
Learning to pray is to learn to see the world from God’s point of view and it
is for changing me rather than about changing God. The Holy Spirit leads us
into this state of surrender through these groaning where praying becomes a
joyful and invigorating experience and not a chore. The Holy Spirit touches the
deep recesses of our heart to lead us to an intimate relationship with both God
the Father and the Son. What greater blessing can be there for an individual!