How do we know what to pray for when experiencing life-changing infirmities in ourselves or our loved ones? The Holy Spirit does not speak to God on our behalf. In times of trial it intercedes personally in our attitude and thoughts positively reinforcing our capacity to believe and trust God.
The Apostle Paul wanted to encourage the brethren in Rome of his time by helping them understand how the Holy Spirit assisted them in prayer. He wrote in Romans 8:26: “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” (KJV).
This is where it gets down to where the rubber meets the road. All of the knowledge, wisdom, human ability and intelligence, mean little unless we are able to be sustained by God in our infirmities.
There is much Apostle Paul teaches us what happens through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but here he is saying how it helps us specifically in our infirmities. A study of the context adds so much more and explains the deepest inner emotions all of us experience when dealing with trials - infirmities are especially singled out here. He is saying that the Holy Spirit (which we define as the mind and power from God) works with our spirit to understand several vital spiritual truths.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (verse 28).
Paul knows this is a hard one, but in the same breath he is saying the Spirit intercedes to give us the inner strength (helps our infirmities, helps us in the sense of sustaining us - Albert Barnes).
How do we know what to pray for when experiencing life-changing infirmities in ourselves or our loved ones? We would pray for healing. In the prayer requests sent out for others with health difficulties this is certainly what we ask brethren to pray for. But the person who is suffering needs to also be sustained in their belief in God, their trust and faith in Him, and to have peace in the course of their trial. They need to have reassurance that they are in God’s hands and that God is making every decision about them, now and for the future.
Again, this is why the Holy Spirit must intercede when it is needed most in our normal train of thoughts. The Holy Spirit is not a person who is speaking to God on our behalf. In times of trial it intercedes personally in our attitude, thoughts, capacity to believe and trust in God.
Do we always know what to pray for as we ought? Do we know what is best for us? Would we always agree with what God wants to accomplish in our lives, and the way He may allow in order to work out His purpose for us? What we do know and must be sustained in is that God has a great purpose for each of us and He is thinking of eternity, not just now.
Personally, I need the sustenance of the indwelling of God’s spirit to intercede in my life in very direct and powerful ways to manage my thinking during these times. Despair is a terrible thing. I think we have all experienced it. This is one of the emotions that we don’t seem to be able to overcome by sheer human strength of mind. This is the “groanings which cannot be uttered.” What is being experienced is too difficult to put it in words.
It takes another more powerful mind that is transferred to us through His spirit to give us the spiritual strength (the mind of God) to deal with anguish of soul and to recognise and express our deepest longings and with the proper approach to God. That approach should be thankfulness and faith.
We should take careful reading of James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (RSV).
Pray for each other - the operative thought here. We need the Holy Spirit that conveys the mind of God to intercede so we know how to pray in these trying moments.