The following is a lightly edited transcript.
I invite you to open your Bibles to Romans 8. We’ve talked about living in the power of the Spirit and preaching in the power of the Spirit, and this session is supposed to be about praying in the power of the Spirit.
As I reflected some weeks ago on how might I approach this, I’m so convinced that once you catch the basic meaning of Galatians 3:5 — “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith”? — the answer being, yes, hearing with faith, he supplies the Spirit to you and works miraculously among you, then once you understand this, you know how to apply that across the board whether it’s eating, drinking, preaching, or praying.
So, I thought, what should I really tackle? I would like to tackle with you the text that, to me, is probably the strangest text in the Bible with regard to the relationship between the Holy Spirit and prayer, namely, the Holy Spirit’s prayer for us in Romans 8. So I’m going to read verses 18–27 and focus on 26 and 27, but it’s important that we read verses 18–27 because verse 26, which addresses the issue I’m going to talk about begins with “likewise,” and we need to know why that is.
A Glory Worth Suffering
Let’s start at verse 18, and what Paul just said that we will be glorified with Christ provided we suffer with him. So if you bail out on Christ because of suffering, you won’t be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). We will be heirs with him provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him, and tries to encourage us that it’s worth it and to not to let suffering drive you away from Christ. So how does he do that? Let’s read, starting with verse 18:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
You need to mark that word, “groaning,” because the connection between this use of the word groaning and the one down in 26 is important. Let’s continue reading verses 23–26:
“We will be heirs with Christ provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.”
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Now, here’s my understanding of the word “likewise.” Paul has been trying to help them in view of the groaning of this fallen age where our bodies are not yet fully redeemed and we groan, waiting for the redemption of our bodies. We groan with sickness. We groan with losses. We groan with all kinds of inadequacies and frustrations that go with an age that says, “Yes, this kingdom has broken in but it’s incomplete. The ages are overlapping, and we live with so much incompleteness and we groan in it.”
So Paul is helping them by putting their groaning in a global, universal context of renewals of the new heavens and the new earth. And then he says, “Likewise, the Holy Spirit helps.” In other words, it is like Paul saying, “I’ve been trying to help you with this theological framework of your suffering and your groaning, and the Holy Spirit, likewise, helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought.”
You now have the link between Spirit and prayer, which is today’s focus. “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). Here is that word again: “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.”
Three Ways the Spirit Intercedes
I have three questions to ask in regard to this text, the Holy Spirit’s praying for us or interceding for us, and they are very simple, but the answers are not very simple, for me at least.
- What does the Holy Spirit pray for us? What does he ask God to do?
- How does the Holy Spirit pray for us?
- Why does the Holy Spirit pray for us?
This is strange. God praying to God is strange. Why? I mean, me praying to God is strange enough since I’m in no position to tell him what to do, but God praying to God is stranger yet. So, this is an odd text to me, and I would like very much to understand it because Paul says it’s help and I like being helped especially by the Holy Spirit.
1. What Does the Holy Spirit Pray for Us?
So let’s tackle those one at a time. What does the Holy Spirit pray for us is the first question. Verse 26: “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.” So it says the Holy Spirit helps us, and now it’s saying how he helps us. He’s interceding for us “with groanings too deep for words” or wordless groanings. So I want to know first, what is he praying when he intercedes? What’s he asking for?
There are several clues to the answer of that question, and I don’t think it’s impossible to answer that question. First, it says that the Spirit asks for things we don’t know how to ask for. Verse 26: “We do not know how to pray for what we ought.” So, he’s praying for us something that we don’t know what to pray for. That’s a clue.
Second, it says that the Spirit asks for things we don’t know because of our weakness. Verse 26: “The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.” So something about our weakness yields ignorance that he takes up for. So he’s praying, and that’s a clue to what he’s asking for.
Third, the Spirit asks for things that are in accord with God’s will. Verse 27 at the end of the verse: “The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Now let’s meditate on each of those three clues.
He’s praying things for us that we don’t know to pray. Now that eliminates a lot of things, because we know a lot that we should pray for. Everything commanded in the Bible that is still relevant for us to pray, we should pray would come to pass in our lives. We should pray for holiness and faith and hope and joy and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit and every unqualified commandment in the Bible, we should turn into a prayer. I could pray all day because I know what I should pray if I just open my Bible and start reading it and turn the commands and the promises into prayer.
Our Ignorance and Weakness
For the first clue, I’m not ignorant about hundreds and hundreds of things that I should pray for, but here, whatever it is that he’s talking about, we don’t know what to pray and evidently, the Holy Spirit does know and he’s taking up our slack. He’s filling in and he’s praying in a way that we need to have him pray because of our ignorance. That’s clue number one, and I think it’s a huge clue. And together with others, he’s going to point the way to what he is saying — what he is praying.
“The Spirit of God is praying for you and not against you.”
The second clue is that this ignorance of ours is owing to our weakness. “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Our uncertainty about what to pray is uncertainty owing to weakness. Now what does weakness mean? You track it down, there are at least three possibilities: (1) We have weaknesses owing to limited human nature (Romans 6:19). (2) We have weaknesses owing to sickness. It’s just another word for sickness in Luke 5:15. (3) We have weaknesses owing to adversity. Paul uses the word in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 about the adversities that were coming against him and putting him in a condition of weakness.
Now, in the context here, in Romans 8:18–25, especially verse 23, “We groan inwardly as we eagerly await for our adoption his sons the redemption of our bodies,” I think the context there is our decay, our futility, our misery, our finiteness, our fallenness, anything in this life that owing to its imperfection makes us groan. That’s the kind of weakness he’s talking about, especially, I think, bodily suffering because he talks about the redemption to the body. We groan waiting for the redemption of our bodies.
So I think the weakness here that makes us ignorant is the weakness owing to hurt, disease, persecution, anything that may threaten our lives, threaten our health, and make our bodies miserable. The Holy Spirit helps us in those weaknesses. So what is it that don’t we know due to those weaknesses? That’s the way I’m working toward an answer to what he is praying for us. And I think the answer is: We don’t know the secret will of God for whether we will live or die. Had the message about John Stott been true, I wonder what you were praying. Were you praying, “Rescue him Give him recovery and some more time”? Or were you praying, “Thank you, Father. Let it be sweet him home”?
Do you know the will of God in his life? You don’t, and you don’t know the will of God in your own life as to whether you will get home today or tomorrow. You know sick people in your life. I know several who are having chemotherapy, and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. They don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
What should they pray? Let me give you a couple of biblical examples of why I think we may be on the right track here. Paul’s thorn in the flesh, he asked three times, “Jesus, please take this away. It hurts. Jesus, please take this away. It hurts. Jesus, please. This is really difficult, making my ministry hard. Take this away.”
He obviously didn’t know how he should pray because Jesus, after the third time said, “No, my grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” And now he knows because he got this special revelation. God doesn’t usually do that, although I think he can as you move toward your own dying or your wife’s dying or your child’s dying can bring you to a point where he communicates in one way, “I think you should let them go and start praying for a sweet death rather than rescue.”
When We Don’t Know What to Do
One of the great problems I have with one kind of “name it and claim it theology” is how horrible they make death for so many people. I’ve had people come to me after services and they’re here to visit a friend at the Mayo Clinic a couple hours from our home. They’re in terrible strength, probably dying, and they belong to a church that does not believe they should die at this age and they are never ever gathering around them comforting, helping, encouraging. They’re only saying, “If you had enough faith you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
This is horrifically destructive for so many people in the last weeks and days of their life. They don’t have a theology of Romans 8:23 and how the Spirit here can so wonderfully help us in these moments when we don’t know how to pray. Just think now, in this context you can all think of people in your church who are in situations and you don’t know what’s coming next, and you don’t know whether they’re going to get a job. You don’t know whether this sickness is going to lead to death or whether this marriage is going to be repaired. You don’t know.
Another example, Paul in prison in Philippi. Philippians 1:22–24: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
So for at least a season, Paul was very perplexed about what to think. I’d like to go home. I’m sure it would be a relief, but if I stay, it’s going to be so good for the churches to be built up some more. And he does resolve this, but for a season it seems like he doesn’t know, and that’s owing to the reality that he’s in prison and he’s being pressed and his body would like relief and freedom. And our situation often is like that. Here’s another way to put it, on the front end of cancer or persecution or loss or danger and you have a choice whether to step into your own pain or somebody else’s pain and take a risk, do you or don’t you?
You got young people in your church, and they said to call to the mission field like Pakistan or in Afghanistan or northern Iraq or Saudi Arabia. And their parents think they’re crazy. Well, what are you going to pray? How are you going to encourage them?
I got an email like this some time ago from one set of missionaries and they were in Turkey at the time. He was in jail, and they got an email out, “Pray for us that we would be strong and that God would work and bless the church.” Well, how and what do you pray? Let them stay! Get them out! Same thing happened. One of our missionaries was in jail for ten days. So, what do we pray? They have two children and he’s ten days in jail because he was accused of killing his neighbor, and it looks really bleak.
“The Holy Spirit loves us and he moves in and he awakens our groaning.”
Let’s consider John Bunyan. He was in jail for twelve years mainly voluntarily because had he been willing to sign off that he would not preach, they would have let him out. Bunyan refused even though he had a wife and four children, one of whom was blind. Right choice? I don’t know. How was Mrs. Bunyan praying? Here’s what he wrote. He wrote a book called *Advice to Sufferers on this question of ignorance of whether to stay in danger or run from danger, and it’s just one illustration of the kind of ignorance we have when we’re obedient to Jesus. In it, he wrote,
Thou mayest do this if it in thy heart. [That is, try to escape.] If it is in thy heart to fly, fly. If it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Anything but denial of truth. He that flies has warrant to do so. He that stands has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand as call and the working of God in his heart may be. Moses fled, Moses stood; David fled, David stood, Jeremiah fled, Jeremiah stood; Christ withdrew, Christ stood; Paul fled, Paul stood. There are therefore few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly.
Do not fly out of slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God opening a door for escape of some which the door is open by God’s providence and the escape countenance by the word of God.
Now there’s an effort to show how complex the issue is. To stand and die if necessary or to fly through a hole in the wall in Damascus, in a basket to flee in order to preach some more, which we groan, groan not knowing. That’s what I think is going on here.
The Holy Spirit evidently knows what should happen. We don’t know what should happen. But we know one thing. “We want Christ to be magnified in our bodies whether by life or by death,” as Paul said, in Philippians 1:20. But the Holy Spirit knows best how that will happen, and he asks the Father to do it.
Now, before I ask the second question, namely, how does he do this, let me give you some encouragements and why this should encourage you. First, be encouraged that you are not expected to know the will of God in every respect. The revealed will of God in the Bible, you do know love, faith, and purity. But the secret will of God, the providential will of God, the decretal will of God, different names for this sovereign work of God, you don’t know, and this text says it’s ok not to know. It’s ok to groan in your ignorance.
Second, be encouraged that in your perplexity and in your groaning you’re not only being watched, you’re being understood by the Holy Spirit. God the Father is searching your heart and he’s finding your holy groanings meaning something in the mind of the Holy Spirit. I’ll come back to that.
Third, be encouraged that God’s work for you is not limited to what you can understand, beyond what you can understand and what your mind can think, he is at work for you.
Fourth, be encouraged that in your weakness and sickness and loss and hardship and danger, the Spirit of God is praying for you and not against you. If God is for us who can be against us? So the Spirit is for us here. This is a concrete illustration of God being for us because the Holy Spirit is praying for me and not against me. God is on my side here.
And the fifth encouragement is that God the Father hears the prayer of the Spirit and answers. God does not reject the prayers of God.
2. How Does the Holy Spirit Pray for Us?
Second question: How does the Holy Spirit pray for us? The first question was what does he pray and my answer is, the Holy Spirit prays that the outcome of our present situation will be that which brings most glory to Christ even though we don’t know what that will be, whether it be our life or our death.
How does he do this? Verse 26: “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” The Holy Spirit is interceding with groanings. What does that mean? The phrase is “wordless groanings.” What does it refer to? His groanings and not ours? Ours and not his? Or his and ours? Who is groaning? There’s a lot of groaning in the preceding verses, and it’s ours. And here it says the Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings.
My answer, and then I’ll try to show it from the text, is that we are groaning at the prompting and the direction of the Holy Spirit, and in his prompting and direction, our groaning has meaning. And God searches that meaning out and he knows that meaning. Our understanding of our own groaning is I just want to die well or live well and I don’t know what the outcome is. I’d like to be under this needle or this radiation well, or I’d like to deal with the death of my child here well, and I’m not sure what that looks like, and it gets to a point where all you can do is groan. You’ve lost all ability to put into words any specific longings. It’s just an ache in your heart.
I think what he means when he says the Spirit intercedes with groanings is that we are groaning and the Holy Spirit is prompting the groaning and guiding the groaning and giving meaning in God’s ears to the groaning. And here’s why I think that. The Holy Spirit has no communication problems with the Father. Therefore, to speak of him to groaning because he doesn’t know what to say, I think would be blasphemous. The Holy Spirit is groaning to the Father because he doesn’t know what to say to the Father. That doesn’t make sense to me. That’s not the way the Holy Spirit is. He’s omniscient. He knows everything. He doesn’t need to groan to the Father out of any ignorance or uncertainty. So, I’m ruling out the idea that this is just the Holy Spirit groaning, not me groaning.
Second, the one who hears and understands and answers these groans is sad. Verse 27: “To search our hearts.” He’s searching our hearts, and I think that points to the fact that we’re doing the groaning. God the Father is moving in our hearts and searching out our hearts where the groaning is happening. The Spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groanings and he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit. So the Spirit doesn’t send these groanings to the Father any other way than by awakening groanings in me. My groanings, my wordless, frustrated, loss-caused, pain-caused groanings are of the Holy Spirit. He’s doing it.
“Be encouraged that you are not expected to know the will of God in every respect.”
Third, the word groaning here ties back in to the groanings of verses 22–23, which say, “The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth.” And verse 23, “Not only the creation but we ourselves who are the firstfruits of the Spirit groaning inwardly.” Now in those two cases the groaning is ours. It’s the groaning of bodies that are decaying and wasting away like Paul says in 2 Corinthians. This outer nature is wasting away but our inner nature is being renewed. Paul was so conscious of aging, and he was conscious of his back being shredded five times with 39 lashes. Paul lived with a thorn, whatever it was that he was living every day. He said, “I die every day.” So Paul lived with this pre-scientific, and Luke probably did his best as a doctor, but he must have suffered. Then he groaned. And so, in that context, and verses 22–23, I can’t come to verse 26 and think that the groaning is not that. That’s what it is. It’s our groaning as fallen, dying, imperfect, decaying, wasting away human beings.
Fourth — this one helps me most of all — the groanings here are the groanings awakened and directed by the Spirit in our hearts so that they are our groanings and his groanings — his in the sense that he awakens and guides them in ours in the sense that we experience them. Consider the analogy in this chapter with the witness of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:15–16: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Your Cry and the Spirit’s Witness
So I ask you, who is saying “Abba, Father”? And the answer is you are saying “Abba, Father,” but it’s called the witness of the Spirit. The way it works is that when you’re born of God, the Spirit comes in. He’s the Spirit of God. He’s the Spirit of adoption. One of his functions, therefore, is to awaken in us a sense of, “God is my Father. I’ve been adopted into the family of the Creator of the universe” and you cry out, “Abba, Father.”
It’s like 1 Corinthians 12:3 where “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” So when you’re born again, the Holy Spirit comes in and the Jesus you were looking at as a stumbling block and foolishness, you say, “Lord, my Lord and my God.” Well, you’re saying it and the Holy Spirit is doing it. He’s saying it. The witness of the Spirit here in Romans 8 is my Father, my Lord Jesus, my Father God, and the Holy Spirit is doing this inside. This is where our confidence and our certainty comes from. I think analogously this is the way we groan. The Holy Spirit moves. We’re considering our own cancer or considering our own frustration of being persecuted in the church, or we don’t know whether to leave the church or stay at the church. We don’t know whether to get this treatment or that treatment. We don’t know whether to prepare to die or ask to live. And the Holy Spirit loves us and he moves in and he awakens this groaning.
And the groaning is our saying, “Father, I don’t know, but I just want my life to count for you. I don’t want to waste it. I want you to be honored.” What Paul said. “I want to be Christ to be honored in my body whether by life or by death, but I don’t know whether to stay or go.” And the Holy Spirit knows. He knows. And those groanings, while unintelligible to us, are totally intelligible to the Father.
So, I think the analogy there is remarkably helpful and close, and the answer how, first, what does he pray, and now how does he pray is that he creates these groanings, our groanings, at his bidding and guiding and awakening. And then the Father searches our hearts, discerns the meaning of the Spirit and answers his prayer that we would live or die to the glory of Christ.
A Remarkable Help
Just a little comment on why this matters before we ask the last question why does he do this? I think the ministry is always accompanied with tremendous frustration. Even at the moments of greatest success. Every silver lining has a cloud because if some great success happens, there’s something wrong in you or there’s something wrong over here or something there.
If we don’t have a way to believe that God knows this, handles this, is not surprised by this, that we are perplexed about ministry, frustrated in ministry, not having answers in ministry, then we would be very discouraged I think. I find that this passage of Scripture, as perplexing as it is, in some ways, is a remarkable help. It’s remarkable to tell me you don’t know many times, John Piper, not only how to pray or how to act. Because if you don’t know how to pray for something you don’t know how to move toward it either, and I find a lot of ignorance in my life. A lot of questions get asked to which I don’t have answers, especially when it comes to practical things.
3. Why Does the Spirit Pray for Us?
One more question. Why? Why does the Holy Spirit pray for us in this way? Why did God set up the world this way? Why is this strange teaching here? What’s the point? God praying to God. Very strange. I’m not sure I know the answer to this, like I said, but I’ll make a stab at it and you can test it. I think the question of why this way of ordaining Christian living that God the Spirit or moves in us and awakens groanings which we don’t understand and are sent Godward, but he understands and have meaning, and God searches and understands because he knows the secret will that he’s going to do. And the Spirit asks him that and therefore he does it. All seems so superfluous, right?
God is God. Just do your will. Why complicate things like this? It’s like saying, why complicate things by creating the universe? Why complicate things by creating humans with wills? Why complicate things by creating humans with hearts? Why complicate things by creating humans with hearts in which the Holy Spirit dwells? Who are we to say what it’s like to have the living God inside of us and what his business is there? The way I approach perplexing texts is to say I assume I’m stupid. The Bible is smart. I assume I am finite and small and know almost nothing. I see through his very dark glass and someday I’m going to see face to face, and right now, when God says to me something about what my experience means, I’m going to say, “Okay, doesn’t seem to make sense to me, but I’m going down here. I’m going underneath. I’m trying to get my head up into this, not stand on it and criticize it.” That’s my approach to the Bible.
I was having supper last night with Wayne Grudem, his son, and we were talking about some heavy things. His son is moving toward a doctorate in philosophy, and I just bore my own little testimony. I was a philosophy minor. I don’t know anything about philosophy. A little learning is a dangerous thing, and I just said to him, “You know, my experience at age 64, Alexander, is that the Bible is unbelievably profound.” And many philosophers read it and think it is simplistic.
“Prayer is appointed as a way of keeping us in close conscious, personal dependence upon God.”
And for those who are willing to give themselves, to go down into this ocean, you will find things that will boggle the minds of the philosophers. And if you give yourself utterly to it, you could say things that could shed light all over the philosophical world. That has happened in America in some ways in these last 30 years. Christian philosophers are the main cutting edge philosophers in America today. That’s because the Bible is like this. So I don’t presume to have the whole thing, down.
Why Did God Create Prayer?
I’m going to put this strange way of God doing things in the context of why there’s prayer in the first place. Here’s my mini-theology of prayer as we move towards closing in the last two or three minutes. I got five big statements:
God created the universe and all that is in it to display the riches of the glory of his grace. Isaiah 43:7: “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.” Ephesians 1:6: I ordain you and predestined you and elected you “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” So that’s the first main reason for creating the universe — to display the glory of his grace.
Therefore, all persons should act in a way that calls attention to God’s glory and the glory of his grace. First Corinthians 10:31: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The obedience and service of God’s people will glorify him most when they consciously and manifestly depend on him for his grace and power to do what they do. “whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). The Giver gets the glory. So, the aim of the universe if for God to the glory for his grace, and the way we do it is by doing everything for his glory, and the way we do that is by doing everything in the conscious reliance of his power because the one who gives the power gets the glory.
Prayer for God’s help is one of the ways that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder to us, to the world, that we are dependent on God for everything. “Give us this day our daily bread.” God means for us to own every day our dependence on him for every breath we take, everything we eat. So prayer is appointed as a way of keeping us in close conscious, personal dependence upon God. Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” So God gets the glory when we’re in a conscious state of calling.
When the Spirit prompts and directs the groanings in our hearts, the ultimate purpose of the universe happens like this. God gets the glory because God the Spirit creates these holy groanings. God gets the glory because God the Father is the one who performs what the Spirit asks. God gets the glory because God the Son purchased for sinners all those blessings with is blood. God gets the glory because our hearts are made the theater of this divine activity. This is the bottom line answer I think.
Why is my heart made the theater of this Spirit action in relation to God the Father? Answer: so that I will now, knowing these two verses in the Bible, understand that God is making me the place where the Spirit loves me, cares for me, and awakens these groanings in me so that they are perfectly intelligible to the Father and his will is perfectly done in my life.
When you feel weak, suffering, decay, sickness, futility, persecution, failed plans, baffling afflictions and decisions, don’t despair as if God were angry. I think this is one of the greatest problems we have. Things go wrong, and our works-orientation immediately kicks in. God is mad at me. And here’s this text saying, here you are, struck by some groaning, some disease or whatever. What’s happening, God? And the answer is: You’re being helped. You’re being loved. You’re being prayed for by the Holy Spirit.
You may, in your cynical moment say, “I don’t like him doing it that way. I wish he would just tell me, not the Father, tell me what to pray for.” I’d say, well, I wouldn’t kick against this gift if I were you. I would take it as a gift. Experience the wordless groanings of your heart as the work of the Spirit helping you, praying for you, and trust the Spirit to intercede for you exactly the way you need help.