In Romans 8 Paul is culminating and specifically applying the previous seven chapters of the marvelous news of what God has accomplished thru Jesus Christ for mankind: believers are new creations, indwelt by the Spirit of God, and alive! He speaks to believers about their freedom, sonship, and coming glory – but not before the walk through a journey of life that involves great suffering.
So think of verses 26-30 as a map of our life from here to glory… and it starts with weakness.
How weak? How about, so weak we don’t even know how to ask for help:
“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought…” (Romans 8:26)
In our clearer moments we can acknowledge this truth. Oh, we want the pain to go away. Yes, we want to be whole… whatever that is. We know it’s not this. This is not glory. This is brokenness.
Sometimes what is wrong is vastly overwhelming: Mentally – How did things get to be like this? Emotionally – It hurts so bad! Willfully – I don’t want to go on. How do we pray at times like this?
May I suggest groaning:
“… the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26
There is great hope in this phrase. It underscores what Jesus said about prayer:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. – Matthew 6:7
It’s not the amount of words. It’s not the eloquence of the words. Ultimately, it’s not even the accuracy of the words. It’s the coming to, the leaning on, the falling down in faith before the only one who can save.
Do you have a groaning song? I do. It’s from forty years ago:
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
Hear, O Lord and have mercy
My soul is longing for the glory of you.
O hear, O Lord and answer me.
Neither the lyrics nor the melody are impressive, but in times of deep trouble I find myself singing it. It is groaning – my soul crying desperately to God for help. Several of the psalms do the same.
And here is the beauty of groaning:
“… he who searches hearts knows…” – Romans 8:27
Is your heart weighed down? Confused? Overwhelmed? Despairing? We have a Father who looks at hearts, who investigates hearts, who searches hearts.
And what is he searching for? A soul that is leaning towards him: Faith. Oh it may be little faith. It may even be tiny faith, like a mustard seed. But that’s the key: it is real faith. John Piper puts it this way:
“It may be a grief to us that we are only a spark instead of a flaming fire. But listen! And be encouraged: Yes, there is a big difference between a spark and a fire. But there is an infinite difference between a spark and no spark!”
So come with your need, your fear, your pain… and groan. Lean on the one who has called you by name. He has promised:
“… a faintly burning wick he will not quench…” – Isaiah 42:3
And if there is not a spark, cry out to the one who alone creates life, that he would give you a spark, for he said:
“… whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37
Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ
There are times in life when our mortality and need for a rescuer becomes more evident to us. For some, that may be happening now. If so, we will be gathering to pray by Zoom on April 1 (no joke!). Come and join us by clicking this link tomorrow at 7:30 pm.