God Is The Intercessor

History belongs to the intercessors, who believe the future into being. Our role in creating history has this important qualification, however. We are always preceded in intercession by God. God is always already praying in us. When we turn to pray, it is already the second step of prayer. We join with God in a prayer already going on in us and in the world.

The Spirit also helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily, but God's Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which cannot find words. The person who knows the heart's secrets understands the Spirit's intention as he or she prays according to God's will for those who love God. (Romans 8:26-27)

This groaning of the Holy Spirit within us echoes and gathers up two other groanings mentioned in the previous paragraph: the groaning of the whole creation in pangs of childbirth (Romans 8:22); and we ourselves, who groan inwardly as we await the ultimate transformation: the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).

The Spirit gathers up all this pain and releases it through us with sighs too deep for words. These sighs are not our own sighs, given articulation by the Spirit. They are the actual groanings of the Spirit within us, and they must be given articulation by us. (The New English Bible version seems to imply that we are the ones who sigh -- "through our inarticulate groans the Spirit herself is pleading for us." I am following Phillips's translation here, taking the phrase "the one who searches the heart" to refer to the discerning person who prays, rather than to God, as most other versions do.)

The Spirit as Wailing Wall

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