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The Holy Spirit in Prayer

Today we are going to look at ways in which the Holy Spirit helps us in prayer.  I would first like to remind us that in Luke 10:1 it says that Jesus told a parable to teach his disciples that they ought to always pray and never give up.  We all have found that this is easier said than done.  We easily weary of prayer, especially when we don’t think it is helping.  Our flesh fights against this spiritual work of communicating with the God of Heaven.  We need to recognize the source of this resistance and not let it win out in the end.

He Helps Our Weaknesses

Let’s look at the passage in Romans 8:26-27.  Here we are told that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.  This is in keeping with the description that Jesus gives of Him in John 14-16.  He is called The Helper repeatedly.  We need help because we have weak areas in our life.  Like children who need the help of parents, so we need the help of God’s Spirit to do what we couldn’t without Him.

In this passage we are told that one way the Holy Spirit helps us is by interceding for us.  There are times in prayer when we just don’t know how to pray or for what to pray.  We can be at a loss for words and yet still grieving inside.  Now this passage in Romans 8 has earlier spoken about the whole creation groaning for the curse to be removed and believers groaning for the resurrection.  Here the groan has to do with a situation we want to pray about but are too weak to do so (physically or intellectually).  It can be difficulties in relationships, or wisdom for direction.  In either case we need help.  This passage talks about the Spirit making intercession for us with “groaning which cannot be uttered.”  What we see here is the truth that the Spirit is able to “interpret” our groaning heart.  In fact, the wording implies that Spirit Himself is groaning.  The picture seems to be that it is in actuality the Spirit Himself who groans through us before the Father.   Now God knows the heart and why it groans, whether the groan is saying, “come quickly, Lord,” or “Lord, I am hurt.  Please heal me!”

So, you may feel like a time of grieving before the Lord is useless, but it God doesn’t really need our words.  He is quite capable of understanding what our heart is feeling without those words.  By yielding to God in these times we can co-labor with the Holy Spirit to communicate though it feels like we are not.

He Helps By Giving Us The Words To Say

Just as the Holy Spirit can interpret our lack of words, so He also helps by supplying us words to say.  We see this in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Just as important as what we pray for is how we pray.  Here we see that as children of God we approach God as a Father.  In fact the Spirit is working within us to give us the understanding and terminology that God is our Father.  He helps us understand our true position before God, which releases words that God longs to hear from His children.  Paul is speaking to people who had been slaves under the law of God.  But because of Jesus things have changed.  The Spirit had to help them take hold of this internally and vocally.

Another way in which the Holy Spirit supplies words is in the area of Tongues.  In Acts 2:4 it says, “And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  The Spirit is the source of true speaking in tongues.  In Scripture we see several things in this area.  First, at the Day of Pentecost, we see that the Spirit supplied language that the people hadn’t learned, but was understood by those around them.  This miraculous supply of language clearly demonstrates the power and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  By His help they proclaimed the wonders of God to people in their “heart languages.”

Another thing we see in Scripture is that sometimes the Spirit supplies a language that no one around you knows.  Paul says that the Spirit will also supply an interpretation of the Word that was spoken.  Because it is in a public setting it needs to be interpreted.

A third situation is when a believer is in a private situation and speaks in tongues.  Paul talked about praying with his mind (understanding the words) and praying with his spirit (not understanding the words, speaking in tongues).  There was no need to interpret the language because you are by yourself and you know that God knows what your heart is saying.  This is an encouraging act by which we partner with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to pray through and for us.  The Bible says that through it we can build our self up in faith.

He Helps by Helping Us Repent

This last area is important to remember precisely because our weakness involves our fight against the flesh and sin.  In Zechariah 12:10 God says, “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of Grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”  Here God promises Israel a time when He will help them repent.

He does so by pouring out the Spirit of Grace and Supplication.  This is clearly the Holy Spirit.  However, different descriptors are used of Him.  Grace is similar to the word favor.  As in, “Noah found grace [favor] in the eyes of the Lord.”  It is an action based upon a feeling within God.  What is interesting is that the word for “supplication” is built off the same root as the word Grace.  It literally means to cry out for Grace.  Thus God says He will pour out the Spirit of Grace and “Crying out for Grace.”  Even when we are so lost that we don’t know what to do, God helps us by sending the Spirit which helps us to cry out for grace, Help!  In this context they will see their sin and its effects.  It will cause them to mourn and yet, because God’s Spirit helps them, they will cry out for mercy and grace.

Repentance is not just for the Gentile nations, nor is it just for the Lost.  Repentance is the very path we walk on to come to God.  When we were lost and prayed the “sinner’s prayer,” we only walked through the door of hope.  But believers dare not leave repentance behind them.  Rather, it becomes the life-blood of our relationship with God.  The Spirit leads us in recognizing our sins and repenting of them before God.

Final Thoughts

Though we may often feel “too busy,” God’s Spirit is daily working to help us in prayer.  So take time to see how He is doing that and grow in learning to cooperate with Him.

Also, prayer is more than saying things to God.  It is an intimate expression of our heart to God AND His heart to us.  So we need to take time to listen and meditate before the Lord.  Don’t be afraid of times of silence.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Holy Spirit Prayer audio