Monday, October 26, 2009

groans in our praying

Romans 8 tells us that we don't know how we should pray, but that the Spirit helps us with groans that words cannot express. Is this our groans or the Spirit's groans? I'm not sure, though it would seem grammatically that it is the Spirit who both intercedes and groans in us. But it seems that God's work in humans often includes humans so that we take on personally and from our hearts something of what the Spirit is doing, and indeed even the mood of the Spirit. I think I agree with Ben Witherington III who writes:
...Cranfield is probably right that what is meant are utterances or groanings that are imperceptible to the believer. The Spirit groans along with the believer, just as the believer groans as part of fallen creation.

Ben Witherington III, Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 226
N.T. Wright has noted how we as believers in Jesus groan with the rest of creation for God's full renewal of all things, which begins with the redemption of our bodies in the resurrection.

When we seek to pray, just groaning should never be despised. This can be among the most powerful kind of praying and prayers. Even though we may not be uttering a word, not knowing what to pray, just our groans to God can be taken by, and/or come from the Spirit, who intercedes in us according to the will of God.

I often feel near groaning, at least a good part of any given day. And such often is the case when I am troubled in trying to pray for someone or something. But we should turn our groans "upward" in prayers to God, seeing them as something God can take as we think of those in need of God's intervention. And for ourselves as well.

I think I've found this helpful. When my prayer life may seem dormant, groanings may end up finding their way in and out of the throne room of God for the good of others, and the world, as well as ourselves.

How do you look at groaning as potentially being a most powerful kind of prayer? Or any thoughts on this?

3 comments:

preacherman said...

It gives me encouragement and stength to know that the Holy Spiirt plays this role. Sometimes I pray and words just can't express all that I am feeling and needing in my life. The groans that go up beofe God help accomplsih what words never could.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Yes. This helps me immensely because all I can often do is offer groans to God. As Paul says here, we often don't know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit intercedes for us.

nAncY said...

i agree , amen