PRAYING WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY

Ro.8:26 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.

Prayer is a mysterious proposition. If God is sovereign and all knowing why should I pray? Actually it is an invitation. He doesn’t really need us but chooses to work through us. Even our prayers are dependent on Him and could actually be called God breathed. This verse says I don’t how to pray or what to ask for. So what do I do ? I pray by and in the Spirit. He prays for me and through me exactly according to God’s purposes and plans. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this supernatural prayer.

“The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!”

The Holy Spirit takes over using our voices to call in the plans of God. I may not know how to pray but He surely does. Here is the crazy part, He bypasses our brains and prays in inexpressible groanings the intercessions of the Spirit. Here is a quote from the Expositor’s Commentary about this passage.

“Verse 27 is needed to clarify something referred to in v.26, i.e., the inexpressible groanings. How can such prayer, if it be called prayer at all, be answered? Are not such prayers unintelligible? Not for God! He is no stranger to the intent of the Spirit. He knows what the inexpressible meaning is, because the petitions that the Spirit voices are strictly in accord with the will of God.”

Just think about what this is saying, the Lord humbles Himself to become intimately involved in my little world actually praying prayers I would never pray to fulfill the will of God in my life. To me this is way too good to be true. This unlimited, all knowing, all powerful God is working in my life orchestrating my prayers in order to cause all things to work together for my good. So what will I do? Pray in the Spirit and let God take over my world.

LIONS, TIGERS, AND GIRAFFES

Ro.8:20,21 – For against its will the universe itself has had to endure the empty futility resulting from the consequences of human sin. But now, with eager expectation, all creation longs for freedom from its slavery to decay and to experience with us the wonderful freedom coming to God’s children.

My wife Parris and I recently went to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about going to zoos. My feelings about zoos got more complicated a number of years ago when my family was able to go to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya while we were on a missions trip to Tanzania and Uganda. To see the African animals in their natural habitat kind of ruined going to zoos. The animals in the wild were alive and excited about life. When I went to zoos after that Africa trip it was never the same. The animals at the zoo seemed to be depressed and aware of their slavery, it just wasn’t the same.

That’s why my recent zoo excursion was so differently exciting. I knew something was up when we went to the lion exhibit. This lion, his name is Arnold, was very active wandering all over his enclosed area eyeing every person that came by. His eyes were intense and exciting, not like the sleepy, depressed lion I was accustomed to. It was as if Arnold was expecting his circumstances to change at any moment. He exhibited a wonderful display of anticipation.

Next we saw the giraffes. There were three males in the exhibit acting in very aggressive ways. They were slamming each other with their horns, swinging their necks at a high velocity. So much for the lazy animals at the zoo, something was up with these animals. Next we were at the elderly elephant area. Two females were entertaining us by climbing in and out of the water, spraying water in the dirt to make mud. Then they would spray themselves with mud. They were enjoying their daily mud bath. That’s when one of these girls let out a tremendous trumpet blast with her trunk. The animals seemed to be talking to us, or maybe the unseen One was speaking through His creation.

Then there was the tiger. He was going from roaring to swimming to attacking his barrel as if it was a prey of some sort. Finally we saw the jaguar, you know the one who made the news not long ago with his late night escapade and rampage as he killed multiple animals in other enclosures. He was ramped up, pacing, growling, and roaring. The animals were all speaking in concert.

What were they saying? Better yet, what is the Lord of creation saying? If you were paying attention you saw it in today’s verse. Creation itself is groaning in prophetic declaration about the coming kingdom and the releasing of the sons and daughters of God from the corruption of the fallen world. If the animals sense something then what about us?

GOD’S NEW THING

Rom. 8:18,19 – TPT – I am convinced that any suffering we endure is less than nothing compared to the magnitude of glory that is about to be unveiled within us. The entire universe is standing on tiptoe, yearning to see the unveiling of God’s glorious sons and daughters!

The Old Testament Hebrew prophet Isaiah had an interesting theme that weaved all throughout his book. He saw creation restrained but existing in a state of anticipation. Isaiah also spoke in great detail of the birth and death of the Savior. Even though Isaiah lived about seven hundred years before Christ appeared, he lived in a state of expectancy. He saw the appearance of the Messiah as imminent and His appearance marking the beginning of God’s new day. In today’s passage the Apostle Paul takes up Isaiah’s theme. From Paul’s perspective the Messiah has appeared and the glorious day of the Lord is upon us. Paul acknowledged the suffering and the day to day struggle we experience was part of creation’s anticipation. He said it was like the suffering of a pregnant woman anticipating the birth of her child. Glory is about to break in on the world, it has already broken in to the lives of God’s sons and daughters. Here are some thoughts from the Passion Bible on today’s verses.

“Interestingly, the Greek word used for “unveiling” (apokalypsis) is the same word for the full title of the last book of the Bible, “The Revelation [Unveiling] of Jesus Christ.” The created universe is but the backdrop for the dramatic appearing of God’s sons and daughters unveiled with the glory of Jesus Christ upon them. The verb tense in the Greek text is clear that this “unveiling” is imminent, soon to happen, and destined to take place. Christ’s glory will come to us, enter us, fill us, envelop us, and then be revealed through us as partakers of the glory. Although God will not share his glory with any other, we are no longer “another,” for we are one with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through faith in Christ.”

The great culmination of everything that the Bible points to is breaking in upon us. Don’t be surprised at the struggle and adversity you face living out the Christian life. It is all part of the struggle. We are all groaning in anticipation of the great appearing of our Lord. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

EXPECTING GOD’S NEW DAY

Rom.8:26-28 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny. So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

I put a lengthy passage from Romans 8 for today’s devotion, please take time to read it and ponder. There is power and revelation for those who hunger. This passage speaks of the groan of creation that lives in the heart of every born again child of God. The Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in us prays God’s powerful prayers within in us. He is praying for the fulfillment of redemption, the manifestation of the Bride of Christ. What this passage reminds me of is the personal nature of God’s plan. He has chosen me as a vessel to pray through for His kingdom plan. That’s not all, I am included in His plan. I see through a glass darkly and am often not sure how to ray. These groanings of the Spirit is actually the Lord calling for His kingdom through me and in me. Here are some observations from the Passion Notes on today’s passage.

“We find three groanings in this chapter. Creation groans for the glorious freedom of God’s children (v. 22), we groan to experience the fullness of our status as God’s children (v. 23), and the Holy Spirit groans for our complete destiny to be fulfilled (here).”

So I say let the groaning begin. Our prayer language is obviously part of this groaning. Pray in the Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to take you to deeper places as you prayer in your heavenly language. As we yield we join in to this heavenly anticipation. The struggles in life won’t all go away, they just won’t seem like such a big deal as God’s kingdom breaks in on us.

HEART SEARCHER

ROM.8:26,27 – And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words. God, the searcher of the heart, knows fully our longings, yet he also understands the desires of the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit passionately pleads before God for us, his holy ones, in perfect harmony with God’s plan and our destiny.

This passage of scripture from Romans is one of the most powerful looks into the blessing of our heavenly language. It shows us several results of our praying in tongues. The first is supernatural help by the Spirit interceding for us. Here is a glimpse into the word intercession from the Passion Notes.

“The Greek word hupererentugkhano is best translated “super [or hyper]-intercede for us.” We can only imagine how many blessings have poured into our lives because of the hyper-intercession of the Holy Spirit for us!”

Amazing. As we pray in tongues the Lord is actually releasing His prayers in us and for us. This brings immediate supernatural help.

The next benefit is connected to the word groaning. Again, the Lord is interceding for us using our own vocal cords. He is praying in groans for God’s perfect plan in our lives. This is a comment on this from the Passion Notes.

“We find three groanings in this chapter. Creation groans for the glorious freedom of God’s children, we groan to experience the fullness of our status as God’s children, and the Holy Spirit groans for our complete destiny to be fulfilled (here).”

Finally, the Holy Spirit uses this intimate language of the Spirit to search our hearts. As we yield to the Lord consistently praying in the Holy Spirit, our will becomes entangled with His. His purposes and plans began to be infused in us as we become more and more conformed to Him by the Spirit. Here, again, some comments from the Passion Notes on this passage.

“Or “God, the heart-searcher.” God searches our hearts not just to uncover what is wrong, but to fulfill the true desire of our hearts to be fully his. Grace triumphs over judgment.”

So what shall we do? Pray in the Spirit and allow Christ to be formed in you.

THREE GROANS

Rom.8:23 – And it’s not just creation. We who have already experienced the firstfruits of the Spirit also inwardly groan as we passionately long to experience our full status as God’s sons and daughters—including our physical bodies being transformed.

Rom.8:26 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Paul says that all of creation is groaning. The groaning is the results of the effect of the fall on everything. The universe is not in the condition it was intended to be. The glory of God is veiled in it because of the ramifications of the fall. The groan is a groan of anticipation of the coming better day. Creation will be restored and the sons and daughters of God will shine with His glory. Here is Paul’s quote from Romans 8 about this groan. Rom.8:22 – “To this day we are aware of the universal agony and groaning of creation, as if it were in the contractions of labor for childbirth”. Inside of all humans there is a groan for reconciliation and restoration of who we are intended to be. We are the crown of God’s creation. We were intended to magnify God with our whole life; that has obviously been effected by the fall. Inside of every human is a longing or groaning to be reconciled to God and to be restored to the Lord’s original plan. We are to be His crowning display of His magnificence. The Holy Spirit is also groaning. He is groaning inside of every son and daughter. The spirit is groaning to help and support us so we become the living testimony of the greatness of God. Here is how the Passion Notes describe this.

“We find three groanings in this chapter. Creation groans for the glorious freedom of God’s children (v. 22), we groan to experience the fullness of our status as God’s children (v. 23), and the Holy Spirit groans for our complete destiny to be fulfilled (here).”

So where does this leave us now? The amazing thing about the plan of God is that the fall hasn’t ultimately hindered the display of His glory in His people. It has given Him the opportunity to magnify His love and grace in an even greater capacity. As we yield to the groan of the Spirit in our lives His plan of restoration is accelerated. He is now putting on display His amazing grace. It would not have been seen without the fall, now its being seen in us.

FORE-LOVED

Rom.8:29,30 – For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

One of those hard to understand things about God is this; part of His creation is time and space. If God created time and space He lives outside of them. The implications of that may speak to why He calls Himself “I am”. He has always been, He is eternal. In today’s verse Paul mentions the foreknowledge of God. Before time was created the Lord knew those who were His. I didn’t say He knew about them, He knew them. He knew them intimately, you could say He loved them personally before they were brought into existence. Paul’s point was that those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to His image.

Some folks think this foreknowledge thing is just the Lord knowing what I would do which would determine what He would do. God knowing me is much stronger than that, He knew me, He knows me, and He will know me. I have always been His before I knew it and before I existed. Here is how R. C. Sproul describes this passage.

“Now, why labor this when we are talking about a particular text in Romans 8? We do so because it is the root of the term that starts the Golden Chain: “For whom He foreknew [prŏginō], He also predestined.” The full import of the word includes not mere cognition on God’s part but a redemptive knowledge that is spiritual and affective (affective – dealing with the emotions)—not effective in this case, but affective. Therefore, we could reasonably translate this text, “Those whom he fore- loved [those whom he knew in a personal, intimate, redemptive sense from all eternity] he predestined.”

I really, really love that. “Those whom He fore-loved, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” Sooooo, I am fore-loved by the Lord before the foundation of the world. He loved me not because of anything I had to offer Him, He loved me despite by ungodly behavior, He loved me with my faults and determined to call and pursue me. Today He is working on the conformed part, He is chiseling away the flaws, making me more and more like His Son.

DO I HAVE A FREE WILL ?

Rom.8:6,7 – For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.

How free is your will anyway? Do you always get to decide everything that your “will” wants? I know children have to have their will subjugated to their parents or really bad things would happen. Everything from eating way to much sugar to falling off the house and breaking a leg comes from bad choices from an unrestrained will. I remember watching a young boy at a restaurant eat an entire bowl of butter without a correcting word from his parents. His will needed to be reigned in. Maybe you don’t eat bowls of butter but without the intervention of Christ our fallen will seems to make many bad choices in life. Actually, the main result of the fall of man has to do with his free will. What happened? Our wills became ensnared by the fall; the result? We no longer had the moral capacity to make good spiritual choices. We were hopelessly separated from our Creator with unspeakable ramifications. Here are some thoughts from R. C. Sproul on our fallen will.

“When John Calvin was engaged in a dispute over free will with his opponent Pelagius in the sixteenth century, part of the debate concerned the nature of the human will. Calvin agreed with a definition of free will which holds that even in our sinful condition we have the power and ability to choose what we want. He did not agree with the definition of free will as the ability to choose from indifference, because we are all held captive by the propensity to sin. Calvin agreed that we do have free will in the sense that we have the ability to choose what we want, but that ability to choose is not only mildly influenced but is radically conditioned by the human corruption of our hearts, out of which flow the choices we make. In other words, we make evil choices not from indifference but from a prior inclination to wickedness.”

So what do we do about that “prior inclination to wickedness”? The will is obviously effected deeply by the things we love and enjoy. This is where the secret to freeing that will lies. What we love and desire in life has to change. That’s where grace comes in. The incredible attraction of the love of God is what brings us freedom from enslavement. What do I mean? When Christ comes into our lives we start loving different things. We love the Bible, and Church and worship. The foolish pleasures that had us ensnared suddenly lose their attraction.

WHAT A DEAL !!!

Rom.8:4 – so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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Paul goes to great depths in the book of Romans to help us see the implications of the fall of man and the redemption available to us in Christ. Our old life, our fallen nature, had no ability to follow God or live a righteous life. As Paul shared in the first chapters of Romans, all of us were born helplessly ensnared in sin. It effects every part of our lives. Our sins were in need of forgiveness but much more than that. Forgiveness alone never changes us. We find ourselves hopelessly trapped in the cycle of returning to our sinful ways. That’s why the gospel is so necessary and so powerful. Salvation includes the whole man. Christ Himself enters inside of us and liberates our will. He begins to work in us and through us in the power of this new life. All the requirements of living a holy life are no longer a burden. We joyfully yield to Jesus and His blessed new life. WE live a righteous life now empowered by His Spirit. Here is how Jonathan Edwards explains this.

“In the Romans 8:4, it is implied that if we walk after the flesh, justification and the reward of righteousness can’t “be fulfilled in us,” but if we walked after the Spirit it would be. The substance and drift of each of these things is the same. If we walk after the flesh, we shall surely come to condemnation. But, on the contrary, if we walk after the Spirit it will surely bring us to life. If we are after the flesh, we shall mind the things of the flesh. The nature of our souls will be carnal, and that will necessarily bring us to death, because to be carnally minded is “enmity against God”, and is not, nor can, be subject to the law of God, can’t please God, and therefore must bring us to condemnation. But, on the contrary, “they that are after the Spirit” do mind “the things of the Spirit”. The Spirit is become a principle of nature in them. The nature of their souls is spiritual, but this naturally and necessarily tends to life.”

What an amazing deal! The Lord makes claims and expectations of how we should live our lives. He then begins to live this new life inside of us. What is the outcome? He receives the glory for my changed life and I receive the joy that comes from this intimacy of having Christ living in and through my life.

THE COSMOS EAGERLY AWAITS

MERRY THURSDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY.

Rom.8:19 “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

There is so much beauty to behold in the creation. Have your ever snorkeled in the pacific ocean? Or hiked through the Smokies? Watched the kangaroos and koalas in Australia? Been on the African safaris? I have done all those things and keep telling about God’s unbelievable creativity with creation. In reality it is a fallen creation that has been given the same blow that man was given. Creation also waits its redemption, in fact creation is eagerly awaiting, sighing, groaning and travailing together with us. Why is that? The cosmos will meet its final purpose when we will be revealed as sons of God. One could almost imagine that it is joining with us in spiritual harmony or dance. To all the earth lovers the best thing we can do to restore our planet back to where it was is to “become sons of God”. This is when all wrong is made right once again.

Matthew Henry puts it this way, “Indeed the whole creation seems to wait with earnest expectation for the period when the children of God shall be manifested in the glory prepared for them. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which has come upon the creature by the fall of man. There is an enmity of one creature to another. And they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. Yet this deplorable state of the creation is in hope. God will deliver it from thus being held in bondage to man’s depravity. The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other’s wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations. Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God. It has brought on the woes of earth; it has kindled the flames of hell.”

MacLarens Commentary mentions the great reversal in the earth, “Earth’s judgments will be reversed by that divine voice, and the great promise, which through weary ages has shone as a far-off star,-’I will set him on high because he hath known my name’-will then be known for the sun near at hand. Many stars will be quenched, but ‘they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.That revelation will be more surprising to no one than to those who are its subjects, when they see themselves mirrored in that glass, and so unlike what they are here. Their first impulse will be to wonder at the form they see, and to ask, almost with incredulity, ‘Lord, is it I?’”

There is so much to look forward to yet so much to experience now as we walk hand in hand with the cosmos as we eagerly await our last redemption.