by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2 January 22, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
26 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.
27 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.
1901 ASV Translation:
26 And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered;
27 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.
I. The Intercession of the Spirit.
A. This is a rather large mystery...that the Spirit of the Holy One would "pray" for us to the Holy One. The "mystery" is that the workings of the Godhead [Father, Son, and Spirit] seem to be fairly sharply "bounded" so that One does not "encroach" upon Another. We also have the same concept in the presentation of the Son as an "Intercessor" except that, with that, we do have some "overlap" of the Spirit and the Son...both interceding. There seems to be an inescapable conclusion: the Father makes the final decisions in regard to us. I cannot think of any teaching of the Bible that encourages us to address our prayers to anyone except the Father. That He makes the final decisions seems to be the reason. That the Father is not going to refuse the intercession of either Son or Spirit should be a non-starter, but that indicates that eventhough the Son and the Spirit have the ability to do for us what they are asking the Father to do and both know that the Father is not going to reject their intercession, they still do not act outside of the boundaries of intercession.
B. The intercession of the Spirit does have this impact: it generates the sense of a fellow-Helper in a difficult task. This is far and awaymoresuperior than any "doctrine" of prayer to Mary or the "Saints" or, even, to angelic majesties.
C. The intercession of the Spirit is based upon this fact: we do not know what is necessary in regard to the "prayer" issue. Whence this "ignorance"? Most likely its roots are in the deceitfulness of the human heart and the commitmentofGod to produce a real solution, not simply a good-appearing one. Because human hearts are deceptive and because human beings are too easily seduced into accepting the appearance of a solution rather than an actuallyeffective one, we often do not know what is necessary.
1. In respect to the deceitfulness, the ultimate reality is this: always and everywhere, men are tempted, in their seeking for Life, to substitute for God either His acts, or any of a plethora of other substitutes.
2. In respect to the consequent reality -- that "prayer" seems to be useless if, in fact, the only reality we need is an uncompromised unity with the Father -- we need to understand that it is precisely because the only thing we need is an uncompromised unity with the Father that means that we "ought" to pray. It is by "prayer" that we come to grips with the reality of Life in Uncompromised Unity and it is by "prayer" that we seek the Father's activity in bringing others to the same reality. In the details of prayer, we ought to be asking God to act in regard to the plethora of "blocks" to the understanding in others regarding this reality. In other words, if we ask for the "healing" of a body, but it is not in our minds, or that of the ill, that the "healing" would be a tool to reveal God more clearly to the ill so that health ceases to be seen as the need, we have failed to pray "as we ought".
II. The "Groanings Which Cannot Be Uttered."
A. The "groaning" is the same terminology as in 8:22 and 23. The meaning seems to be a wordless expression of a relatively significant attitude of frustration. Wanting, and not getting, sets us up for "groaning". Generally, "groaning" is a sound, but not any specific words.
B. The "cannot be uttered" is a translation of the negative particle plus the verb for "to make sound". The direct implication is that, in this case, the "groaning" is not a sound. Even the following statement regarding "He that searcheth the hearts knows..." implies that no vocal expression has occurred. What would Paul's point in this be? What is significant about "unvocalized attitudes of frustration"? The NASB renders the phrase "too deep for words", but whoever came up with that notion apparently did not consider that it was the "Spirit" addressing His "groanings" toward the Father, not our groanings. In what sense can there ever be a situation that is "too deep for words" between the Spirit and the Father? This deepens the significance of the question: If the Spirit wants something for us from the Father, why does He not just say what it is? What is the point of "unvocalized expressions of serious disappointment?"
1. One idea does crop up: unvocalized expressions of frustration imply that the One Who is not "vocalizing" may well be operating under the impression that "vocalizing" will not do any good. If we are destined to be in this compromised state of "subjection to vanity" until the adoption of the sons, what good will it do to "vocalize" about it?
2. But, on the other hand, another idea also crops up: if the Father responds to the Spirit's unvocalized expressions of "intercession", it must imply that He is bothdissatisfied with what is causing them andiswilling to address their roots. It may well be the nature of our Father that He is at least as dissatisfied as we are and is even more inclined to produce a solution. There is this, however: His solution may well go completely unrecognized as the solution because we are too ignorant to even know "how it is necessary for us to pray". If we are that ignorant, it should go without saying that our ignorance may well blind us to His solution while it is "in process". When it is accomplished, the result will probably overcome our ignorance and we will see, but, until then, we may be doing a lot of unnecessary groaning because the answer is being given. In tandem with this idea must also come this fact: the Spirit, Who does both know and see the Father's solution being implemented, no longer "groans without sound" about that particular issue.