Lately I have had [my daughter] Clara order her own meal at McDonald’s. Have you ever done that with your children? (Do you remember the first time you ordered something?) Maybe it falls along the same lines as what Clara does. When she orders, she says: “I want a Happy Meal with chocolate milk.”
Sounds good, right? …that is, until you realize Happy Meals come with either a hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets. You can select either (1) more French fries or (2) apple slices. Some toys are geared towards boys and others for girls. You understand Clara’s requesting dinner for a kid, but Clara is not sure (1) what the order-taker expects her to say or (2) how the order-taker needs to hear the order.
So, enter me: the helper. Clara knows I understand what she wants. She knows the request I make will result in receiving what she requested. So, I take Clara’s request and put it into words the order-taker needs. A chicken nugget happy meal with ranch dipping sauce, apple slices, and chocolate milk.
This morning God reminds you about the helper you have in life. No, not someone to help you order McDonald’s. Rather, a helper who brings your requests and petitions to the throne of God. Forgetting that you have such a helper can leave you frustrated that your prayers are not being heard. You may even grow discouraged in praying— and may stop praying altogether.
So, God reassures you: You Never Pray Alone! The Holy Spirit helps you and The Holy Spirit intercedes for you.
Romans, chapter 8, yanks your attention right to the work of God the Holy Spirit. Reading through the chapter, you’ll discover the word [Holy] “Spirit” appears nineteen times! And each reference describes how the Holy Spirit works in you. He kills the sinful impulses flaring up inside of you (v.13). So, you know your limits when you’re out with friends. Your sentences do not contain a minimum usage of four-letter words. You give up some of your personal time to help your [grand]kids with homework. The Holy Spirit is always changing your attitude from serving yourself to serving the needs of others.
Even when you fail to live as God expects, the Holy Spirit wraps his arm around you and testifies before God: “This one belongs to you! Forgive them! Remember, this is your child!” (v.16). That is who you are: God’s child— because by faith in Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit lives in you. You know that now, but when the world reaches its end, you will see it more clearly by the way you look and the way you act and where you live (v.23).
Our reading adds another responsibility of God the Holy Spirit. You read: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. Just think about that. God the Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Triune God. This is the One who powerfully changed your unbelieving heart into a heart beating full of faith. This is the One who lives inside of you and strengthens your reliance on God. This is no mere angel; this is the God of the universe.
And who is he helping? You! He does not only help your Pastor who spent decades studying the Word of God. He does not pay special treatment only to Christians you consider stronger [in faith] than you. Out of the billions of people in the world, the Holy Spirit directs his full attention on you— regardless of your Bible knowledge or your weaknesses or your struggles. He cares about you because through faith, you are God’s child— and that is who he sees now.
Since you are God’s child, he does something. He helps you— always, now, in the next hour, later today, tomorrow, throughout the week. That is why the verb is present tense. He always holds your hand. He always stands beside you in prayer. He always brings your petitions to the throne of God— even when [you] do not know what [you] ought to pray for[.] This is his responsibility: The Holy Spirit helps you— meaning, You Never Pray Alone!
He was always there when you poured out your heart to God. Yes, even when you heard new reports about violence, drugs, and murder popping up in your city. You may have felt all alone—unsure of what your city will soon look like, not sure if your neighbor is going to bring something dangerous right next door. Yes, you may doubt God cares about your concerns and still, the Holy Spirit is right there, unloading your fears of danger and violence at the throne of God.
You see decreasing worship attendance in every church across America. You may even remember the days when everyone stopped what they were doing on Sunday and came to worship. Now, those days feel long gone— and you feel all alone— as though you are one of the last Christians remaining. You wonder if anyone cares about eternity in heaven or hell anymore. You wonder if God still remains to bless you in life, in your family, in your church. Even when you felt that it is not worthwhile to pray anymore, the Holy Spirit placed your every emotion into the hands of God.
The doctor called again. The cancer’s spreading. The medicine list is growing. The side-effects intensify. “Where is God?” you cry out— and God the Holy Spirit was there and is there—understanding your frustrations, your fears, and your sadness and notifying God of those concerns.
Sometimes you may feel that prayer is worthless because you feel no one is going to answer. No one cares. No one really knows what you are really enduring. Many times those calls to God stop simply because you believe the devil’s lie: God does not care.
The truth is: he does care. And he shows his care for you on the cross. There hung Jesus—shouting out: “God, where are you?!” (Psalm 22:1). This Jesus had done nothing to deserve this God-forsakenness. He never questioned God’s care and concern for his wellbeing. He never doubted God’s assurance that he listens. He never relied on himself to make life better. It was us that did that! And it is Jesus who suffers for it! And he suffers and he dies so that you will not live apart from God forever. This is how much God cares for you: He gives you Jesus, who lived a perfect life in your place and has laid his perfect life on you so that you can live as a dearly loved child of God.
God hears your prayers. He has filled you with The Holy Spirit who helps you. Your prayers are being delivered. Yet, it does not stop there. Be sure: You Never Pray Alone! because The Holy Spirit intercedes for you.
It cannot be said any clearer: the Spirit himself intercedes for [you]… This “interceding” is putting your petitions into the right, exact words. The Holy Spirit does not change your message. If you pray for healing, he is not asking God to give you patience. Rather, he presents your requests to God as they stand. (Just like I present Clara’s Happy-Meal-request to the order-taker in the right words.)
When the Holy Spirit approaches God the Father, he presents your petitions with groans that words cannot express. No, the Holy Spirit does not growl and groan and mumble. Neither is he speaking in fantastic tongues you can’t understand. Rather, the Holy Spirit stands before God the Father and shares your deepest inner feelings with unspoken words. God the Father knows exactly how you feel because he [… ]searches[y]our heart [and] knows the mind of the Spirit[.]
It means God never makes mistakes. It means God knows you (and me) better than we know ourselves! Even when we are unsure of the solution to ask for, God gives the perfect answer because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Did you catch where you are in this verse? You are a saint! Understand what the Bible teaches about ‘saints.’ It does not teach that some people are holier and more moral than others and therefore there exists different levels of Christians (as though a saint is loved by God more than a Christian). The Greek word: “Saint” means “holy person.” Christians are “holy” because Jesus places his holiness on them. You are “holy” because Jesus has placed his holy life on you. God sees you as: ‘Saint Bob,’ ‘Saint Sue,’ ‘Saint Roger,’ ‘Saint Betty,’ ‘Saint (fill in your name).’ Since you are “holy” (and therefore a “saint”), it means God cares about you!
When you don’t know what to ask for, the Father’s reply will be what is best and perfect for you. Sometimes that involves God leading your heart to accept his will. Someone’s “will” is their desire. My “will” (or “desire”) might be that my spouse fully recovers from surgery, runs around like she is young again, and lives until the ripe age of 98[years old]. Yet, while she lies in the hospital bed, I may not be so sure my “will” is going to be fulfilled. Instead, God’s “will” (his “desire”) might be that my spouse leaves this earthly life so that she may live in her heavenly home. While I might not always understand God’s timing or reasoning, the Holy Spirit teaches me rely on God’s perfect decision.
My “will” might be that this congregation grows to be the largest in the area. I do truly desire that everyone comes to know (1) Jesus as their Savior, (2) learn that eternal life comes because of Jesus and not because of their self working, and (3) that many find joy in serving God by living according to his Word. This is a good desire; after all, God desires that all people be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Yet, God’s “will” may not be that we become the largest congregation around. He knows how tempting it would be for us to brag about our efforts. He may take his Word away from this area because so many rejected hearing it for so long. Most of all, God may be teaching us that success is not found in numbers; success is found in trusting Jesus as our Savior.
The Holy Spirit constantly intercedes for you. He brings our petitions right up to God—and God answers. Sometimes giving us exactly what we asked for because it lined up with his will. At other times, he teaches us to trust his will more than ours.
You Never Pray Alone! You know that because God says that. You trust this because God gives you the Holy Spirit as your helper. Forgetting that you have such a helper can leave you frustrated that your prayers are not being heard. You may even grow discouraged in praying— and may stop praying altogether. Knowing that God always stands beside you, is always serious about listening to you, is always present to answer means you can pray with confidence.
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