Bible Society of South Africa

Praying in the Spirit – 21 October 2022

By Ewald Schmidt

Bible text(s)

26In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. 27And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.

Romans 8:26-27GNBOpen in Bible reader

As a pastor of a rural church, I get to walk a part of the journey of life with my church members and it is a huge blessing to do so. I have seen that in difficult times, it is a struggle to pray. People going through a crisis, be it the death of a loved one, facing a deadly disease or other situations that seem too much to handle, are struggling to speak to God. In these times, people feel like their prayers are bouncing back off the ceiling. It feels as if God is not listening anymore and, if he is, it is challenging to find the right words to express how you feel.

We have seen in our journey through Romans 8 that it is not an easy path to follow Christ. We are God’s children by faith; we have a loving Father in heaven. However, our path is not always easy in this world. Good people also experience bad things and we do not always understand the reasons of it all. Sometimes, the hurt seems too much for us to handle. Nevertheless, we know we can always pray and that God is always listening. However, sometimes our words disappear when we need them to express how we feel.

In today’s verse, we receive a word of encouragement. God knows! He knows that his child is weak and that I am very dependent on him to survive. When I go through troubled waters and my words disappear in my grief, then Romans 8:26-27 brings relief. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what is going on in our lives and in our thoughts. Psalm 139:2 says that God knows our thoughts even before we think it. The Holy Spirit takes our wordless groans – that which we can find no words for – and he intercedes for us at our Father’s throne. He speaks the words that we wanted to speak, but could not find!

This gives me hope, to know that God’s answer is not dependent on my prayer alone! I do not always have the words to express what I feel. In times of sorrow or pain, I can just go to my space of prayer and sit down in the presence of God. I do not need to say a word; God knows what I want to say. The Spirit takes my fear and pain, my feeling of being overwhelmed and he intercedes for me, where it really matters. It is a spiritual discipline that we need to practise more – just to be still in the presence of God. There are so many verses reminding us to “be still, and know …” (for example, Psalm 46:10). The beautiful truth of Isaiah 30:15 reminds us that “in quietness and trust is your strength”.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you that you know my deepest heart. Thank you that you understand what I want to say in prayer, even if I do not find the right words. Thank you that I may rest in your presence and that I know that you intercede for me when I cannot. Help me to be quiet and trust in your presence. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.15
Find us on