J.D. Greear on Praying What the Holy Spirit Wants You to Pray

J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.

A lot of us say we want to live by faith, but the moment we can’t see or understand what God is doing, we throw up our hands to pray and say, “Are you even there, God?”

We want to live by faith, but we also want to be able to understand why every bad thing happens. We want to be able to say, “Oh, I see. I get it now.” But that is not walking by faith. That’s walking by sight.

Faith means trusting God even when you can’t see him. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8, faith means waiting to experience resolution until the end.

While we wait to experience the glory of eternity, we can trust that God is working. And, we can trust that the Holy Spirit is perfectly interceding for us:

“In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

– Romans 8:26–27 CSB

What does it mean that the Spirit groans in us? Paul uses this word “groan” to mirror what creation is doing, and it reveals a couple of things about the Holy Spirit.

First, that groan indicates deep emotion. We may not often consider that Jesus experienced emotions, but one of the most moving scenes of Jesus’ life takes place in John 11 when he weeps at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. In the same way, the Spirit feels our pain with us.

I don’t know about you, but in my lowest moments, I don’t want answers so much as I want someone. I want to know that I’m not walking through the valley of the shadow of death alone. And this is precisely the assurance that Romans 8:26 gives us. When we weep, the Spirit of God weeps with us.

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Source: Church Leaders