Suffering, Prayer and the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:26-27

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.


This whole section beginning in Romans 8: 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

This section is about the Spirit of God leading us to life and about suffering being a probably surprising part of that process. If you look forward to the end of Romans 8 Paul is talking about famine, nakedness, being put to death etc. And the grand idea is that despite those outward terrible issues, those in Christ are more than conquerors. Now, to be a conqueror is great, to be more than a conqueror is to remove all doubt that we are citizens and sons in the kingdom/family of God. We share in the glory of Jesus and the Father. And it is the Spirit who ministers this truth to us!


  1. In the Same Way the Spirit Helps Us

In the same way as what? Two options:

  1. Creation groans and looks forward to purpose

        Suffering and childbirth

        Resurrection power in our lives guarantees:

  1. Meaning/good coming from present suffering
  2. Fellowship to Jesus in suffering
  3. Jesus was raised from the dead as first fruits.

The connection between Adam and Jesus: Creation and new                Creation.


  1. God as Abba guarantees special care

        Our special relationship with God helps us. Boice

        Children have access.

Children have attention.

Children have special care.

Children have special protection.


  1. Similar language to John 14-16

Jesus is about to leave His Disciples to their greatest test. Peter   is going to deny him three times! All will fail to be close to Him         on the Cross except for John. They are at the moment of their   greatest trial! (He prays for them in John 17!)

  1. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help         them. He is another Helper.

The Holy Spirit is a helper. He is to help just like Jesus                         helped them. We should expect the same type of help                   from the Holy Spirit as the Disciples.

John 14: 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.

  1. Another helper like Me.
  2. He will be with you forever. There are no separation         issues.
  3. He is the Spirit of Truth: Lead, Teach, Remind
  4. He lives with you (Jesus) and will be in you. (Post         Pentecost)
  5. Praying in the Spirit
  6. The Spirit is an Advocate like Jesus

        Just before Jesus groans in the Garden, He intercedes for the Disciples!

            John 17: I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

(Awareness that God is working through Jesus.)

10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.

An awareness that we bring God glory as we follow Jesus

11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Protection from faith attacks that come from the world

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

A request for the full measure of Jesus’ joy

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

Protection from Satan’s attacks. Faith attacks.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Set them apart from the world as they follow your word.


  1. The Holy Spirit intercedes. He is our intercessor. Just as Jesus was for the Disciples.
  2. The Holy Spirit is aware of our suffering and weakness: He groans, just like we groan and just like Creation groans!

        Here is a passage that relates the Holy Spirit to us just as Jesus   shared in human weakness.

  1. And so we come to the throne of grace in weakness. We come boldly because of our intercessors. We come because we need help! And Hebrews 4 says we get help in the form of grace and         mercy in our time of need!


  1. The Groaning Spirit

Is this a reference to praying in tongues? It is a reference to the Spirit in prayer, tongues is a subset of this. But do not narrow the ministry of the Spirit to fewer than He ministers to!!!! The Holy Spirit intercedes for all who are the children of God!

  1. How the Spirit helps us
  2. We don’t know what to pray for
  3. The Spirit intercedes with an understanding of
  4. our suffering
  5. all suffering
  6. God’s redemptive purposes
  7. The Spirit makes our prayers super effective.
  8. We go from not knowing what to pray for to praying as we ought!
  9. So, the weakness that comes from suffering, the uncertainty that accompanies that suffering naturally. We acted in a certain way, there was a painful consequence—of course we question our actions, we are unsettled. That is what pain does! The Holy Spirit helps us with that by guaranteeing that we pray in a manner that is effective.


III. Biblical Pictures of the Importance of Prayer

  1. Prayers in Heaven in Revelation

        Revelation 5: 8 and Revelation 8:1-4. Jesus and the ministry of opening the scrolls. He is able. He is worshipped. And the 24 elders have the prayers of the saints gathered in bowls.


  1. Jesus and Paul pray while suffering

        Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He sweats blood!

Paul and the messenger of Satan sent to torment him.


How did they pray? How many times did they pray? What did they pray for? How was that prayer answered? (When our prayers are answered affirmatively by God then these no longer apply)

And what is the end result of their prayer: Paul: He hears from God and God’s grace and power are magnified in his life as a result.

Jesus is arrested, tortured and crucified. And Resurrection and Salvation from sin was the result.


  1. Paul prays for churches

A prayer that fits the purposes of suffering!

Ephesians 1: 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

  1. There is fellowship to be had with God personally in our suffering


18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,

  1. A hope of a life lived in the purposes of God that include suffering. So it is a discovery of what God is doing now!

the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

  1. This is Resurrection. We will live in the future in a way that makes all of this in the present fade. We will share in Jesus’ glory


Ephesians 3: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

  1. The Spirit prays for us. This will give you confidence and strength!

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

  1. The purposes of God become my purposes.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

  1. The connection to love here corresponds to the end of Romans 8. Nothing can separate you from the love of God! And there is a list of sufferings. But, we are declared to be MORE THAN CONQUERORS BECAUSE GOD LOVES US.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.