Dec 05

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Prayer (4)

It is understood when writing about “prayer,” that it is dangerous, as this is a most personal subject. It is a subject that is in most cases very dear to the heart; it is a subject that is not measured by perfection, as each word comes from the soul that is pouring out the deepest thoughts and expression of his/her being. Yet, it remains a truth that we all need to learn how to pray better! Therefore, in writing on the subject of prayer we are going where only the brave and humble dare to go.
One of the most misunderstood texts on the subject of prayer are Paul’s words: “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” (Rom. 8:26). If I may, please notice the first word, “Likewise;” as it will be most helpful in understanding Paul’s words, if we question, in “likewise” of what? It requires that we back up, and learn what “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities,” is like. It is necessary to back up at least two verses: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25). Paul’s point in these two verses is that “hope” is that which is not yet realized and it helps us; “then do we with patience (endurance, frw) wait for it.” It is here that he writes, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” Keep in mind; it is our “hope” that helps us!
Here we must also learn a very important lesson. The word “Spirit” has a capital “S,” but in fact, this means very little. Why does it mean very little? Because the Greek text was written in all capital letters; therefore, when translating the Greek text into English, the translator, or the publisher, determines to capitalize the “S” or not to. It is a matter of his opinion and nothing more! It is the context that must determine, if the writer is referring to the Holy Spirit, or the human spirit. In the case before us, the word “Holy” does not appear in the text, and the reader is remained that it is our “hope” that helps us and Paul wrote, “Likewise the spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” It is our “hope” and it is our “spirit” that helps us. So, why does our spirit help us? Notice that Paul continued: “for (the Greek “gar,” which expresses the reason) we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” Ever wonder why we have so much trouble, as we search for the right words as we pray? Now we know! So, are we, therefore, helpless, and should not pray at all?
Hear Paul, “but the spirit (Once more, it is not the Holy Spirit, but our spirit) itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” The Greek word translated, “intercession” is “huperentugchano” and means to intercede for one. Our “spirit” intercedes for us, with groanings. But what are these “groanings?” The Greek word (stenagmos) means, sighs, and here refers to sighs “which cannot be uttered.” Right when we are having trouble, searching our minds for the right words, but we just cannot find them, our spirit sighs, with our inabilities; therefore, with words which we cannot utter.
Now, with this understanding, verse 27 answers our needs: “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” The “he” that “searcheth the hearts,” is Christ, the one who is our great high priest (Heb. 4:14); for he “knowth what is the mind (what one has in the mind, the thoughts and purposes, frw) of the spirit,” then, he maketh intercession and he does so “according to the will of God!” So, even when we stumble, or say the wrong words, Christ our intercessor knows what is in our heart, and our spirit “makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Yes, even when we say wrong words, or when we express ourselves in a wrong way, we need to know that he who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3); knows what we are trying to say! At the same time, we as brethren must give room for wrong words and expressions; for we too at times stand in the same need. Have you stood over the bed of a dear loved who was dying; praying while searching your mind for just the right words, but the words were not there?
In closing, there is still the need to work on leading prayer in the assembly of the saints. We must be open to learning and improvement; as it is a grave responsibility to come to the throne of God in behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ! Let us be thankful that we have men who are willing to lead our minds in prayer!

— Frank R. Williams

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