Following the Spirit in Prayer

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.

Romans 8:26

We often hear things during sermons and read things in Christian literature that deal with the subject of “following the Holy Spirit.”  We often hear (and know) that we should be “led by the Spirit.”  We know that we should allow the Holy Spirit of God to help us and to guide us through life’s decisions and through life’s trials and tribulations.  But this verse gives us another aspect to being led by the Spirit: being led by Him in our prayers.

The disciples famously asked Jesus to “teach us to pray.”  They understood that they needed help in the matter of prayer, and the Lord Jesus helped them by giving them an example prayer, which we now call “the Lord’s prayer.”  We should be as wise as the disciples were and we should be asking the same question.

This verse tells us that we do not know how to pray as we ought.  I don’t know if that means that we don’t know what we should be praying for or if it means that we don’t even know how to pray or if it means both.  But it definitely means that we have a lot of work to do in the matter of prayer.  We need to be led by the Spirit in the matter of prayer.  We need to be sensitive to His leading when comes to our prayers.  There are things we should be praying for and about that maybe we don’t.  He will guide us if we will follow.

Fortunately, even our feeble and insignificant attempts at prayer are heard and answered – also due to the Spirit.  He makes “intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  It is good that we have such an intercessor because, despite our good intentions, we don’t even know how to pray!  Let us follow His guidance in the prayer today and every day!

Hope and Faith

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Romans 8:24-25

Hope is a very powerful thing.  Having hope can get us through many trials, tribulations and dark nights.  Charles Spurgeon once said “Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the dark night of adversity.”  The previous verses in this chapter deal with the fact that all of nature (even our own bodies) are groaning under the curse of sin, awaiting the day that curse will be lifted.  These verses tell us that, even in all of that suffering, we can (and should) have hope.

It is the fact that we are dealing with all of the problems that the curse of sin has caused that allows us to have hope in the future and in God’s promises of the future.    To use a silly illustration, I can hope that I will have pizza for supper.  But if I am currently eating pizza for supper, there is no hope.  My hope has come to pass.  That is the way it is for Christians right now.  We have hope, but we have hope in something that we cannot see at this time.

When we look around at the world around us, there is suffering, trouble, and strife everywhere we look.  But we have hope and we “with patience wait for it.”  We have faith in what God has said in His Word.  We have faith that we will do as He said.  That faith gives us hope, and hope is a powerful thing indeed!

Because of Sin, Part 2

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:19-23

We can see around us that nature is groaning and travailing.  But we can also confirm the words of this passage when it says “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”  We can surely see the truth there.

Are any of us perfect physical specimens?  I’m sure that we are not.  All of us have problems, aches and pains.  Sometimes, having some minor aches and pains is the least of our physical problems.  We get tired, we get sick.  We get headaches and we get backaches.  Our joints get strained and injured.  Viruses and bacteria are constantly bombarding us and sometimes infect us.  And, as we get older, all of these things just continue to get worse.

Our bodies truly do groan within themselves as we wait patiently for the “redemption of our body.”  Someday we will have a new body that does not get sick, does not hurt, and does not get tired nor run down.  Sin damaged our souls and spirits, and it also damages our bodies.  But someday we will have rest even from physical problems.  What a day that will be!

 

Revive Us Again (Hymn)

Revive Us Again
William Mackay (1863)

We praise Thee, O God!
For the Son of Thy love,
For Jesus Who died,
And is now gone above.

Refrain
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

We praise Thee, O God!
For Thy Spirit of light,
Who hath shown us our Savior,
And scattered our night.

Refrain

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who hath borne all our sins,
And hath cleansed every stain.

Refrain

All glory and praise
To the God of all grace,
Who hast brought us, and sought us,
And guided our ways.

Refrain

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

Refrain

This hymn on the subject of revival is interesting.  The refrain asks the Lord to “Revive us again,” but every verse is about praising the Lord for all that He has done for us and given to us.  I think that there is some wisdom in that.  Revival starts with thankfulness in our hearts.  When we start praising the Lord for everything He has done for us, we will start to see revival in our hearts.  And revival in our hearts will soon start to spread to others.  Then we can and will begin to see true revival!

Saturday Psalm (7b)

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.  My defence is of God, which saved the upright in heart.  God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

Psalm 7:9-11

This part of Psalm 7 shows us some things about the nature of the wicked and the just.

The wickedness of the wicked will come to an end.  Sometimes, we look around us and wonder how the Lord could allow all of the evil and wickedness that exists in the world.  But He will not allow if forever.  It will not continue forever.  The wicked will have an end.

God will establish the just.  We can be thankful for that.  While the wicked will not last, the just will be established.  The just will last forever and they will have no end.

Verse 10 gives us the true hope of every Christian: “My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.”  Our defense is of God.  He is our only defense and our only hope of salvation, as the Psalmist recognizes.

Verse 11 makes this statement: “…God is angry with the wicked every day.”  That is a scary thought.  In the previous Psalm, we saw that the Psalmist asked the Lord to not rebuke or chasten him in His anger.  Here is says that God is angry with the wicked every day.  We don’t want to be in that category.  Thankfully, positionally we are not in that position.  But we can still do wicked things and live wickedly.  We want to do everything in our power to avoid the anger of God, which is what the Psalmist here is saying.

Because of Sin

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:19-23

This passage tells us that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  When God created the world, He created a perfect world.  Nature was in perfect harmony with itself and with the man God created.  Then the man sinned.  That destroyed him and it plunged all mankind into sin.  But the curse of sin didn’t stop there.  It damaged even nature itself.  And nature itself is groaning and struggling, awaiting its deliverance.

The other day, I was looking at some photographs of nature that had been submitted for a photography contest and I came across one that stuck with me.  It was a small young penguin in the water.  If it ended there, it would have been a nice, cute picture.  But just inches from the little penguin, the photographer had captured a leopard seal with mouth agape, getting ready to snatch the penguin out of the water.  I will admit that I felt bad for the penguin.  But then I realized something.  That penguin met a violent end because of sin.

Even nature feels the sting of sin.  When we look around and see all of the suffering in our lives, in the lives of people we see and even in nature, it is the result of sin.  Sin is not a light matter.  It destroys everything it touches, even nature itself.  That is yet another reason to stay as far away from it as we can!

Sufferings vs Glory

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 

Romans 8:15-18

Sometimes it may seem like life is hard for a Christian.  Sometimes, as Christians, we don’t do things that others do.  Sometimes our friends or co-workers reject us when we try to talk about Jesus.  Sometimes, our heart aches for a number of reasons.  But Paul gives us something here to think about when we start thinking about all of the “suffering” that we are going through.

In this passage, we see some information about our relationship with God the Father.  He is our Father and we are His children.  The Bible even goes so far as to call us “joint-heirs with Christ.”

Then Paul says that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Whatever our sufferings in this life may be, they are in no way worthy to be compared to the glory that will will be revealed in us.

When we find ourselves in the middle of some form of suffering, we need to remember this passage.  We need to think about the glory that awaits us instead of dwelling on the suffering that we are experiencing at the moment.  As bad as the suffering may be, the glory will be far, far better.  That is something that we can and should remember.

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