The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness

Romans 8:26–27

Principle for Bible Reading

These two verses are two of the hardest in Romans 8. John Piper asks two important questions to uncover how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. He shows how God — all three persons — is active in helping and keeping us through the hardest things in life.

View the outline.


Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:41)

Who Does the Groaning? (00:41–06:03)

  1. These groanings are not the Holy Spirit’s, but something he works in us. (Romans 8:26)
  2. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to groan. We don’t know what to pray, but he knows exactly what to pray for. (Romans 8:26)
  3. God “searches hearts” (Romans 8:27). He is not searching the mind of the Spirit, but our hearts. Our hearts are doing the groaning as the Holy Spirit stirs them.
  4. The previous verses say that we, who have the Holy Spirit, “groan” (Romans 8:23).
  5. Again in the context, the Holy Spirit testifies with our Spirit when we cry “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15–16).

For what Does the Holy Spirit Pray? (06:03–09:51)

  1. Our “weakness” (Romans 8:26) at least includes physical pain and suffering. (cf. Galatian 4:13; 1 Timothy 5:23; Romans 8:23)
  2. Should we pray for deliverance or endurance? For healing or patience while you die? “We do not know what to pray for as we ought. . .” (Romans 8:26).
  3. So in our weakness we groan by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through them the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father. (Romans 8:26–27)
  4. The will of God in everything is for our good. The Spirit knows what to pray for us in every circumstance to bring about Romans 8:28.

Study Questions

  1. Who does the groaning in Romans 8:26?
  2. What kind of weakness is Paul describing here in Romans 8:26? What kinds of weakness fit in this verse?
  3. Looking at the context in Romans 8. Can you say anything about “the will of God” (Romans 8:27)? Is there anything that suggests what God’s will for you is?
Piper: “The Father hears the prayers of the Spirit for our good on the basis of the finished work of the Son.”

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.