Encourage Someone Today
The Restoration of Hope
PAUL MADE A WONDERFUL--AND REVEALING--STATEMENT about praying in Rom 8:26. It has been a source and life and strength to me for years, but recently, more than ever. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
While the necessity to pray only increases with us, how to pray--and what to pray--only becomes more baffling. Alongside Paul, we call this our infirmity. Perhaps the most important thing any of us can do is to pray, yet it seems our ability to do so decreases as the demand upon us increases.
It must have been some kind of undue pressure that led Paul to say, We know not what we should pray for as we ought. He could have meant: "Necessity is laid upon us. There is a demand that we come up with some kind of an answer. We're pressed into a corner without a gleam of hope. Impossibility has closed in upon us and our human wisdom has proved useless. People have failed us, and no matter, for no one held an answer anyway. All that's left for us is to pray, and now we don't even know how to do that."
This can leave us very weak. We hold the knowledge that God can come to our aid, but we don't know how to bring our petition in unto Him. In was in this state Paul discovered the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. We're discovering this same thing.
The Greek word Paul used for helpeth is wonderful. I've known it for years and have written and taught about it before, but it's coming on stronger now. Look at it with me-again. It's sunantilambánetai (sun/anti/lam/BAN/etai) -- wonderfully long and complex word. The first part of it is sun. It means "together with, in the same place." Its second part is anti. This means "against, or, in place of." The third part is lambánetai. It means "he takes hold of." Putting this all together, it means the Holy Spirit comes exactly where we are, right inside us to become one with us. From this point He is ready to stand against our infirmities. He is not against us; He is with us. He is against our weaknesses. In fact, He will lay hold on them to wrestle from them the supremacy they hold over us, and release His supremacy instead-if that's what we want Him to do. And, oh! We're wanting Him to do that!
This word infirmities is from the Greek asthénia. It means "lack of strength, weakness, feebleness." It sometimes means "sickness"-sickness of the soul or of the body. Isn't it strange how something that means infirmity can have the power to rule us?
The Holy Spirit is ready to lay hold on all kinds of infirmity in us. He is ready to take on all our spiritual infirmity, our mental infirmity, our moral infirmity, our motivational infirmity, plus all kinds of physical infirmity.
What Paul is making particular reference to in this Romans passage is our praying infirmity. He said, We know not what we should pray for as we ought. The word he used for we know is oídamen. This is the Perfect form of a Verb that means "to know" in a way that is settled, almost to the point of being an instinctive knowing. Here, with a negative, it means, "All we've been through, all the teaching we've had, all our study and searching for truth has brought us only to the point of not knowing." We're left hopeless in a situation that demands an answer.
It is here the Holy Spirit comes to help us. He, Himself, stands ready to make intercession for us.
This ministry of His reaches in two directions. We need to perceive them
both. One, He makes intercession in us for us; two, He makes intercession in us for others. He does this with groanings which cannot
If our ears are spiritually tuned, we can hear the groaning of creation. The wars, the rebellions, the anger, the frustration, the grief, the endless search for meaning are all expressions of creation's groaning. Its hope is dim, but still it longs for a deliverance. This groaning will only increase. It will become like the labor pain of a mother giving birth. Some of us will hear this groaning and participate in creation's deliverance.
But not only is there a groaning in creation, there is a groaning in us which have the firstfruits of the Spirit. We know-maybe with an instinctive knowing-that there is a Something for which we are waiting, a hope not yet fulfilled. Paul called it the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body (Rom 8:23). This may be beyond the ability of our mind to grasp, but it is the longing of our spirit.
Adoption means "son-placement." Redemption means "release from a bondage by payment of a ransom." In all that some of us have known of a relationship with our Heavenly Father, there yet remains a wall of separation between us and Him. The longing to have this separation removed is like a travail of birth. It is our groaning.
Then, there is the groaning of the Holy Spirit. He does this within us, not in some place far from us. We participate with Him in His groaning with a burden of intercession that embraces infirmity, need, sin, poverty, ignorance, and hopelessness. With Him, we bring the infirmity -- or whatever is the weighty burden of our souls -- in before the very Throne of God's grace. Here we find hope. We are able to leave our burden and see His powerful hand move. This may be what some believers of old called "praying through."
I've known a little of this-a beginning. Some years ago, when quite young and "in control" of my life, an older Pastor sat me down on the front row of his empty meeting hall. He had a message for me alone. As he walked up and down in front of the pulpit, he said over and over, "Don't try, Brother Corley, CRY! Don't try, Brother Corley, CRY!"
I was a little annoyed, but remained respectful. Part of me thought he was eccentric; another part of me listened.
In only a matter of weeks, my world crashed. I won't even go into it to describe what it was like, except to say that I was left with no hope. There was nothing left for me to try. In desperation, I sprawled on the floor and cried. At that point I couldn't remember anything the Bible had to say -- except one verse. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles-Ps 34:6.
Somehow-I think by the mercy of God-the Holy Spirit entered my travail and made intercession for me with groanings which could not be uttered. I know, in that darkest night I'd known up to that time, He helped my infirmity
Now all of us together are facing a dark night more troublesome than
any of us have ever known. The Holy Spirit is ready to go with us into
it. What a powerful time! All creation groaning, we which have the firstfruits
of the Spirit groaning, and the Holy Spirit groaning in us! We groan because
the seed of hope has been planted in us.
And now that we have this place to pray, I have to admit my weakest point is in praying. My mind is too weak to come up with the understanding as to what I should pray. My discipline is too unruly to bring me to the point of praying as much as I should. My consciousness of God is too small to keep me in constant communion. My love for Him is too faint to keep me always at His feet and in submission to His will. Therefore, I need the Holy Spirit's help. The grace revealed in Him is keeping hope alive in me and, thus, drawing me on to pray.
I've found Him ready for His union with my spirit. You can find the same.
From His station in us He is ready to fashion prayers that can't be grasped
by our human understanding but that are immediately adequate before God.
Let me add something else I am discovering anew. The more interior becomes
the Holy Spirit's work in me, the greater is the release of His life in
me. I am learning that He -- and sometimes, He alone -- can handle
things in me that try to keep me from praying and that plunder hope, things
like discouragement, anger, resentment, fear, worry, guilt, and so on.
These are robbers that drain us of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual
strength. When they come, the first thing they attack is our ability to
pray, and, thus, they rob us of hope. It is here we learn the Holy Spirit
is not a casual Visitor Who will often go away. He is ready to become
a permanent Occupant in us who ask. He is ready to join with us against
every spiritual invader. Thus, He helpeth our infirmities. And
there is no robber of hope who can stand before Him in us.
Rightly understanding what he said, we find speaking in tongues can become a valuable aid to any believer, especially in personal edification and in praying.
Consider the following verses. Take note of the statements highlighted. They are keys to our understanding the value of tongues. Take special note of verse 15. It points to a wonderful secret about praying.
For Paul, speaking in tongues was more important as a private gift than
as a public one. Its greatest value to him was in edifying himself and
in participating with the Holy Spirit in prayer.
I began speaking in tongues several years ago while waiting on the Lord in the Sunday School room of a Baptist Church. Having no prior instruction as to the purpose of the gift and not being able to freely practice it where I worshiped and ministered, I was mostly private in my use of it. For years it became my daily practice. But one day something happened that brought a new appreciation for the gift and gave new meaning to praying with the Spirit. It was during the time of darkness and tragedy that struck our family, of which I told earlier.
I had been invited to address a gathering of the Full Gospel Businessmen, about two hours from my home. That day, before starting out for the meeting, I was confronted with the horrifying fact of what was happening in our family. Had someone blasted me in the stomach with a gun, I would have welcomed it more. My mind became confused. Darkness closed in, along with fear, guilt, oppression, and bewilderment. I could remember I was to go that night and speak, but was in so much shock I could not engage in conversation with anyone.
As I traveled, the oppression increased with the thought that soon I was expected to stand before a group of people and give testimony of God's faithfulness and power.
Through all of this, the Lord spoke to me. What He said was so secret and what I was released to do was so private that for years I never spoke of it to anyone. Yet it has remained with me as a practice and has brought much spiritual edification and help. It has become particularly useful praying.
Breaking through the darkness of my soul that day, the Lord said to me, "Think in tongues."
I had never heard of this thing, nor did I know of a Scripture supporting it, but I began doing it. With no movement of my tongue or lips, there came a movement through my brain, like the thoughts of words I could not myself understand. They carried away with them the darkness. My mind was purged and I began to think clearly. Most important, I became aware of the Lord's presence and I realized a seed of hope was in me.
What took place in our lives or in the meeting that night is not of significance at this point, except to say God proved Himself faithful. I am simply relating what was the beginning of a practice that has continued with me for years and is of particular use in praying with the Spirit.
One day many years later, I shared with Glenda what I had been doing and what a benefit it had been to me. She said, "Oh, I have done that for years."
She told me how one day, as she was speaking in tongues, the Lord spoke to her, "Swallow." This she did, and the tongues stopped verbally and went down into her spirit. She didn't have theological training like I'd had to condition her against something like this. She said she could hear her spirit praying in tongues, but it left her mind free to think and speak in English. As her spirit prayed, her mind was quickened and she was enabled to think and speak with new direction from the Holy Spirit. Through the years she has had to discipline her spirit to continue this. To her also it has proved exceedingly helpful in the matter of intercession. I have appreciated this gift in her particularly when I am ministering the Word and she is with me. She listens carefully and gives me every assurance with her attentive and beautiful face-all the while praying silently in tongues. The edification that comes to her in doing this often brings the release of some word of knowledge or wisdom which she in turn shares and the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate.
IN THIS ARTICLE we are sharing some things birthed in us out of the pain of personal experience and years of walking with the Lord. We want you to know what has become real and practical in our lives. Perhaps it may be of some help to you as you grow in relationship with the Lord and in prayer-as we move toward the days in which all hope will seem to perish.
If it is not already your practice, ask the Lord for the gift of tongues for use in praying. He will not give you an evil gift. It is a wonderful gift.
There are two more powerful things Rom 8 tells us about intercession. One is that the Holy Spirit maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God-verse 27. The other is that Christ... Who is even at the right hand of God, also maketh intercession for us-verse 34. What greater Representation could we ask? Think of it!
When I do not know what, or how, to pray, the Holy Spirit does know. He makes the intercession according to the will of God. He resides in close harmony with God. What He prays moves toward the working out of His will-and the restoration of hope. What a comfort this is!
A vehicle accident snuffed out the lives of two little children and left their mother, a single parent, in critical condition. We cared for this young mother, a friend of our family, but were not able to go where she was. For nearly two weeks she lay unconscious. We knew that on waking and finding her children were dead, she might not be able to bear the grief. So, we prayed with the help of the Holy Spirit. He knew how to make the intercession and how to minister to her spirit even while she was unconscious. Miracles took place as He prepared her spiritually and emotionally for the shock of learning what had happened. Thus, many occasions for intercession call for outright miracles. For our Lord GOD Who made the heaven and the earth by His great power and stretched out arm, there is nothing too hard (Jer 32:17).
Generally, as believers, we know how to address God in prayer. But sometimes the need of our own soul is so heavy that, before we can intercede for others, we must first find help for ourselves. It is here the Holy Spirit helps us by praying on our behalf. Then He continues to help us as we together with Him make intercession for others.
Sometimes the praying within us and the intercession is with groanings which cannot be uttered. No natural ear can hear the prayer or understand. This is all right, for the supplication is toward the Lord only.
There is something else beautiful about praying with the Spirit. It gives birth to understanding. Paul could say, I will pray with the spirit, and l will pray with the understanding also.
Much of the understanding born in Paul apparently came while he was a prisoner in Rome. What a time for him to pray! That's where the wealth of the revelation presented in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians came into being. He prayed much while there for the people he loved back in Asia Minor. He couldn't reach them personally and teach them the wealth of what was theirs in Christ. Maybe that was best. He had planted the seeds, now he was asking the Holy Spirit to bring that truth to life in their understanding.
We will consider those Prison Epistle prayers of Paul as we move on in these articles. For now we take just one part of a petition from Eph 1:18. He was making request that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened so they could know what is the hope of His calling.
The word understanding is in question in some translations. In the Greek text from which the King James Version was translated this word is dianoía. This means the mind as it perceives, pierces through darkness, and understands. Another word occurs in the text from which many modern translations are taken. It is kardía. This means the heart, the inner part of a person that feels, desires, and responds to God and to others. So, whether it is the understanding, or the heart, that is to be enlightened, no matter. Both need and can receive God's light.
Perhaps it is in the heart that the seed of hope first lodges. The Holy Spirit is ready to go there and nurture it with living water that it may burst forth over into our understanding. From there, while He maketh intercession for us, we watch hope come alive in us and in the world around us.
© Berean Ministries
© Berean Ministries