From conception to eternity – Wednesday, 30th week in ordinary time – Romans 8:26-30
For many, the role of the Holy spirit in their lives can well be described as an artefact in the museum and Paul will contest this attitude vociferously. Paul says that it is the Spirit that helped us to cry, “Abba, Father,” (Romans 8:16). “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness,” (Romans 8:26).So also the Spirit helps us pray as we ought. This reading includes some of the most familiar and comforting words we have from the apostle Paul. (verse 26 and 28) Nearly every sentence is a new way of stating the promise that God has not abandoned “us,” and is in fact working across the past, present, and future–on our behalf.
For starters Paul states clearly that the Spirit steps in to help us to pray because we do not know how to pray AS WE OUGHT. We ought to know how to pray and yet we don’t. That seems ironic for a Christian. In some way, Paul is asking the question: “Do we know how to pray and what to pray for when we are on the crossroads of life?” The problem is not that we know what we need and merely lack the right words for requesting it. The problem is that, we “do not know what to want,” let alone how to ask for it and therefore we rely on the Holy Spirit. Whether we teach people how to pray or not, Romans 8:26-27 is a call to believe in the intercession of the Holy Spirit
We are told that the Spirit intercedes; the Greek word used for intercedes is ‘hyperentynchanei ‘ which means intercedes over and above. In this is manifested the love of God the Holy Spirit for us. The Christian who prays is aware that the spirit manifests its presence to him or her – that is why when we pray we are often left dumbfounded by the words that flow from our lips. We know that what we prayed in words was moved by the spirit. The reality is that human beings run out of words, especially in moments of sickness, death, hunger, poverty, and whenever life confronts us with pain.
This help from the Spirit may include praying with the spiritual gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2, 14-15), but it is certainly not limited to praying in an unknown tongue. the purpose of the gift of tongues is to enable us to communicate with God in a manner that is not limited to our own knowledge or ability to articulate our heart before God. The purpose of tongues is not to prove that we are “filled with the Spirit” or to prove that we are especially spiritual.