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. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
I do find myself groaning more these days. Of course I groan like a sinner, whining about this and that. But I am also experiencing the groaning of the redeemed–good Christian groaning. Paul reminds us that, if all of this is working right, we should be experiencing the prayers of God coming through us. He says these prayers come in the form of groans because they contain sentiments that are difficult to translate into human words. Paul tells us that we are weak and don’t know how to pray… I concede.
In the rare moments when I am able to refrain from my embarrassing man-centered prayer-assault on the Godhead, attempting to fill Him on all the things He needs to know, I am finding something much sweeter. When I desist from the sort of narcissistic prayer that perpetuates the idea that my world is the only significant one, I find something that actually makes me feel whole. And when I just quit talking so much and believe the Spirit of the living God resides within me and is waiting to be acknowledged, I find something that lights me up with joy and passion.
Since Opening Night this year, I’ve been thinking much about the idea of living a life that matches its consummation–the heaven-oriented life. That’s why this prayer-groaning concept is on my heart. I’m inclined to believe that the type of prayer that Paul is referring to in Romans 8 is critical in connecting our earthly existence to our heavenly one.
If we will allow the Holy Spirit to regularly groan within us through our prayers, stirring longing for consummation and fulfillment, then we will think differently about our earthly pursuits. I think these are types of prayers that foster the Godward ache that we so need. This sort of prayer causes our pursuits to be put through the sift of heaven, and we are left with a life much different than what we would have otherwise pursued. Paul alludes to the fact the the Spirit will override the flesh and cause us to long for what God longs for. The implications of this are a thousand-fold. It won’t just affect big life decisions. It will affect small everyday ones. It will affect attitudes and actions, word choice, emails sent or not sent, thoughts harbored or released, stress increased or deflated, days spent worshiping or despairing, and on and on.
Our little school is getting bigger. It’s also getting older–growing up, if you will. As we progress, there is nothing more important to me than that we would be an educational community who groan for the deepest things of God. I pray that the spirit groaning within us would steer us away from petty things, keep us from being duped by the world’s priorities, and give us courage to seek first the kingdom of God, trusting all else to be added.
This is a call to groan together. Christian, the Spirit of the living God resides within you! You don’t know how to pray, but He does. Let us groan together, seeking the life-giving priorities of Jesus.