The Wordless Groaning of the Holy Spirit – Romans 8:26-27

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27 NIV

Paul started this extended passage expressing how the creation groans as it waits for deliverance from it’s bondage to decay. He follows that with the groaning of believers as we wait for the redemption of our bodies. And here, for a third time, Paul mentions groaning; this time the groaning of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

The groanings of creation and believer are expressing a longing for their own deliverance. But unlike the first two occurrences, the Holy Spirit is not groaning for himself. Rather his groaning is a part of his intercessory activity on our behalf. In my weakness, I do not even know how I should pray. But the Spirit does. And he does so in accordance with God’s will.

Am I aware of the Spirit’s intercession on my behalf? I suspect not. His groaning on my behalf is alalētos: wordless, inexpressible, unspeakable. But his wordless intercession on my part is effective. God knows the mind of the Spirit and is able to respond appropriately.

I express my heart and mind in words that are so often inadequate to express my thoughts. But I do not have to worry about the inadequacy of my words. The Holy Spirit is bringing my petitions to the Father in a very adequate fashion. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, the sufficiency of my prayer is not dependent on my own limited expression.

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