Ms. Clara walks into an emptied closet – her ‘war room’ has been made ready for the battle to begin.
If you have seen the movie War Room, you will likely remember this scene. It depicts a ‘prayer warrior’ entering her closet to pray against the forces of evil. and often will bring someone to our mind that we know personally. We all have that person that we think of that seemingly knows how to really “Get a hold of God”. They have their list of answered prayers as proof of their accomplishments.
However, if we are completely honest, looking at our own lives our batting average in the ‘prayer closet’ doesn’t seem so hot, so anytime we feel that we need prayer, we must shop around for the right person to pray for us.
The danger with this thought process is it will often cause us to give up praying ourselves and handing it to someone who can do it right. The problem is that this is completely foreign to the Scripture.
“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.” Romans 8:26
Paul is explaining to the church in Rome what the problem in prayer is, he says, “we don’t know what to pray”. Do not miss he includes himself! The apostle admits that even he does not know what to pray.
The Bible tells us that this is our infirmity, or weakness, not that we do not know how to pray, but that we do not know what to pray. But there is help on the way, verse 26 says, “the Spirit helps”!
The word “helps” occurs only here and in one other place in the New Testament. The meaning is, that someone is carrying a heavy load and another person comes alongside to take the other end and bear the burden with him.
The word implies that the Holy Spirit does not do everything, while we sit back and do nothing. Rather, we are to keep praying but as we pray, the Spirit says, “Let Me grab the other end. I know what to pray for when you don’t.” So, the Spirit helps us by praying for us in our weakness. What encouragement! We have been given the ability to be active participants in prayer, but it is not dependent on us to get it to God!
Following the text, the next activity we see is the intercession of the Spirit (this is where it gets really good). Not only is the Spirit helping us as we enter the Throne room with our prayers, but He is also speaking for us.
Martyn Lloyd Jones states that “the Spirit translates specific requests before the Father”1
You see, not only is the Spirit helping us carry our burdens in prayer, He is literally translating our prayer to the Father. When we pray for a specific need, the Spirit says, “What they really mean is…”, which we see in the very next verse.
“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.” Romans 8:27
The Spirit knows what we really need and what the will of God is, so He is able to take our prayer to get to not only the right words but the perfect answer! This is why we can have the assurance that everything will work together for good (v. 28) because the Spirit is asking for the will of God. (1 John 5:14-15)
The bottom line is this:
- We should be encouraged to pray.
- God has ordained prayer as the means through which we cooperate with Him in bringing about His sovereign will.
Believer, there is no one that can get through to God any better than you. Why? Because there is no one who can get through to God better than your Helper, who is God Himself.
1. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: The Final Perseverance of the Saints, (pp. 135-136)