Last week, I wrote to counter the notion, apparently prevalent in evangelical circles, that the Holy Spirit is a mere impersonal “force”. I attempted to show from Scripture that he is a person, the third person of the Godhead, who lives in and among us to guide, correct, and comfort.
This week, I write about the remarkable way the Holy Spirit — God forever with us — helps believers in their weakness. Who of us doesn’t need such help?
According to Christian understanding, as a result of the Fall, although the universe has all the marks of being God’s creation, nevertheless a tragic disorder runs through it. Every aspect of human existence is marked by a taint that can only be treated as an invasive evil that resists what is good.
Even though as believers we are already redeemed and made heirs of salvation, we recognize within ourselves weaknesses of body, mind and spirit and those weaknesses may at times cause confusion in our prayers. They may even limit our prayers so that, to quote the Apostle, “we do not know what we ought to pray for.” Our innate God-sense is dampened.
But the Holy Spirit comes to our aid in this very sphere. In his letter to the Roman church, St. Paul writes, “ … the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he [that is, God the Father] who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26,27).
So God is mindful of these weaknesses, compassionate toward us, and by his Holy Spirit helps us overcome them. The personal presence of the Spirit who is in all true believers takes over our times of anguish and perplexity and, in a profound way, makes our groans and sighs his own. Again Paul assures, “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”.
Said another way, the third person of the Trinity — the Holy Spirit — unscrambles our sometimes confused prayers and presents them to the Father coherently. The Father in turn knows our hearts because he is “the searcher of hearts” and “he knows the mind of the Spirit”.
Our prayers, now reordered and made clear by the Holy Spirit, can be answered appropriately because they are offered “in accordance with God’s will”.
The Holy Spirit’s personal attention as he enters our lives in such deep intercessory ways may surprise us. But when seen from the perspective of a loving Heavenly Father, we understand that we are loved with a love as deep as Mount Calvary — and as unfathomable. God is for us.
Ponder the ends to which the Father goes to assure his followers of a safe journey through this life to the next. Because we believe that Jesus Christ gave his life to redeem us, within our own beings we are given assurance of forgiveness and salvation.
As well, the Holy Spirit who bears witness to our salvation dwells in us. He counsels us consistent with the Christian Scriptures and, as the continuing source of our new redeemed life, makes intercessions for us in our moments of weakness.
Thanks be to God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Photo credit: frankieleon (via flickr.com)