“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities (weakness or lack of strength) 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. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit according to the will of God.”
I find these two scriptures interesting. Some interpret this scripture to mean that the Holy Ghost is praying for or through us as we “pray in tongues” or “use our prayer language.” It is believed by many that when we “pray in tongues” the Holy Ghost is interceding for us. As I read this text over and over along with the entire chapter, I found out that verses 26 and 27 neither implies or indicated such a thing. This commonly known view has no scriptural basis at all. Does it mean that those who believe the described views are less saved or knowledgable in the Word? Not necessarily. Daily as we study Scripture we are supposed to be corrected and many of us will find, what we think we know is not so. This is one of them. Sometimes we can believe something so long, that we take no thought to question its truth.
This one passage used as a proof text actually has nothing to do with tongues: “The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). Unutterable or unuttered groanings obviously cannot refer to tongues since the Spirit’s intercession cannot be articulated (i.e., spoken or uttered).
“Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought [Gk: ‘as it BEHOOVES’—that which is necessary & binding]: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings [What kind of groanings? Our groanings? The spirit groaning through US? NO…] …which CANNOT BE UTTERED” (Rom. 8:26. “…UNSPOKEN groans,” Emphatic Diaglott, “…INARTICULATE groanings,” Concordant Literal New Testament, etc.).
“Groanings – stenagmos (sten-ag-mos) a sigh
“Which cannot be uttered” – alaletos (al-al-ay-tos); unspeakable
“Utterance” – apophtheggomai (ap-of-theng’-om-ahee) – to enunciate plainly, i.e. declare; to say, speak forth (Enunciate means to “pronounce–words, sentences, etc.–especially in an articulate or a particular manner; to state or declare definitely; to announce or proclaim.”
This scripture cannot be used to justify our “prayer language” or speaking/praying in tongues to mean that the Spirit is praying through us. If the groanings “CANNOT BE UTTERED”–cannot be vocalized by the Spirit then it most certainly cannot be vocalized by human expression audibly in any language (ie. Tongues).
If this is so, how could any claim to do it?
These groanings, the groanings the scriptures are referring to is the intercession of the Holy Spirit, not a believer’s “prayer language”. It has nothing to do with us or a work on our part (ie. Speaking or praying)This verse clearly states that the SPIRIT “cannot” utter (or speak) these groanings (sighs). If the SPIRIT cannot utter it, then how in the world is the Spirit (not our spirit, but the HOLY SPIRIT) speaking through us by way of a tongue (a language)?
If the SPIRIT CANNOT UTTER (speak) these groanings, then how are WE “all of a sudden” able to still utter (speak) them in praying to God?
The Word of God says that the SPIRIT CANNOT UTTER (speak) them. If the Word of God says that the SPIRIT CANNOT UTTER (speak) these groanings, then that means that WE absolutely CANNOT UTTER (speak) the groanings of the SPIRIT by way of tongues as we pray.
Therefore we should not assume:
That the Spirit is “speaking through us” in the form of a language. The Scriptures teaches no such thing, but the opposite in that it does not speak through us. These are groanings or sighs not WORDS and scripture clearly teaches that EVERY word of a language has significance and makes sense (1Cor 14:10). Also it is the Spirit who is praying not us, so we should not assume that the Spirit is using us to pray by way of tongues.
The Word of God has precedence over experience (which may not be biblical) or the teachings of men (tradition). We have no right to read what we want to read into Scripture. Instead of reading what we want to believe, we must instead believe what we read.
There are a lot of translations of the Bible (NIV, NKJV and etc.) and they all aim to simplify the scriptures, but most of them instead are making them complicated and misconstruing what the author really intended to say. Be careful which Bible versions you read.
Let’s examine this scripture (Rom. 8:26) in light of the entire chapter:
As I read through the chapter I noticed Paul’s flow of thought in verses 19-27.
First Paul brings out that the creation groans (vs.22)
Second Paul brings out that believers groan (vs.23)
Third Paul brings out “likewise” the Spirit groans the same way (vs. 26)
Basically what Paul was saying is that creation and believers are sighing or groaning over the fallen state of mankind and that all of creation is longing for the “manifestations of the sons of God” and for “the glorious liberty of the children of God (vs. 21,19).” We all are groaning under the weight of our fallen state (waiting for our bodies to be redeemed), but Paul is bringing out that we are not alone because “likewise” the Holy Ghost (Spirit) is groaning over the same thing. He can’t wait either!
Paul was using a verse 26 metaphorically based on what he said in the scriptures before verse 26 – the groanings of creation and of the believers.
Also scriptures does not say that the believer is the one doing the groanings, but it says the Spirit does, in intercession for us and that those groanings cannot be uttered.
Scripture clearly teaches that it is the SPIRIT doing the groanings or speaking if you will, not people. Not only that, but the Spirit is not really speaking because His graonings “cannot be uttered.” If His groanings “cannot be uttered” why do many of us believe that the manifestation of the intercessory prayer of the Spirit is being accomplished when we are speaking or “praying” in tongues? Now if we understand this to mean “praying in tongues” then in all reality the verse will contradict itself because speaking in a tongue(s) is utterance. Scripture clearly teaches that the Spirit is praying, not us, with groanings that cannot be uttered. Then in verse 27, it teaches that what cannot be uttered God understands because “he knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit.” How? “Because he maketh intercession for the saints” according to His very own will (vs. 27).
Have comfort in this saints: when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit of God sees our heart and knows our needs. The Spirit then intercedes for us before the Throne of God in a way that we would not even be able to understand if we heard it. There is no speaking or praying in tongues, because the Spirit is doing the speaking before God directly Himself, not through us.
In order to rightly divide the Word of truth we have to learn how to apply Literal Principle and it goes like this…
First, does this passage say anything about speaking in tongues? No. In fact, Paul (who is the author of Romans) has PLENTY to say about the use of speaking in tongues. If he were talking about speaking in tongues here, then he would have said so.
Secondly, the passage says the “Spirit Himself” intercedes, which implies that our involvement is not needed. Using the Literal Principle we can conclude that Romans 8:26 does not mean that the Spirit is using us to bring out His intercession for us by “praying in tongues”.
I really hope this helps clear up some confusion about our “Prayer language”. This post is not to devalue the prayer language, but to put the scripture used to justify it in its proper perspective. When we speak in tongues privately, scripture teaches that we are speaking to God (1 Cor. 14:2), and what we are speaking is mysteries. Sometimes, or the majority of the time we don’t even understand it. Just to give you an example, in my prayer time I have sung in tongues (not often, I can count the times on my fingers). After some time in my devotion, those tongues turn into English and I understand what was sung, then I write it down. These are beautiful songs, possibly never sung in the earth (as far as I know…I never heard it). So, there is a time that we spend with God, where we pray and have intimate fellowship with Him. If that intimate fellowship consists of a time of speaking in unknown tongues to God, and someone wants to call it their “prayer language”, so be it. There is nothing wrong with that. The error comes when we take a scripture out of context to justify it or explain it. A scripture does explain it. That scripture is 1 Corinthians 14:2, not Romans 8:26.