“What is the goal of the Christian life? It is godliness born of obedience to Christ. Obedience unlocks the riches of the Christian experience. Prayer prompts and nurtures obedience, putting the heart into the proper ‘frame of mind’ to desire obedience.”1 – R.C. Sproul
For Christian Service.
O LORD, our heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; We beseech thee to bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of their fellow men. Endue them with wisdom, patience, and courage to strengthen the weak and raise up those who fall; that, being inspired by thy love, they may worthily minister in thy Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the sake of him who laid down his life for us, the same thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.2
Lord, we humbly ask that you bless the United State of America, its leadership, and citizenry. Continue to sanctify them in mind, body, and spirit. Watch over them in daily labor and protect them from harm. Give them peace in community and grace in temperament. Guide their hearts toward your will and their minds to our savior. We pray this all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and redeemer. Amen.
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27 ESV).
The Spirit helps (pres. tense, “keeps on helping”) us in (the Gr. here does not have the words rendered “us in”) our weakness. It is not that the Spirit helps in those occasional times when Christians are weak; their state is one of weakness and the Spirit continually helps them. The Greek word for weakness (astheneia) may include physical, emotional, and spiritual disability (cf. comments on James 5:14) evidenced by inward “groaning” (Rom. 8:23). “Helps” translates synantilambanetai, a rich word that pictures someone helping another carry a heavy load. (It is used elsewhere in the NT only in Luke 10:40.)
One evidence of their weakness is the fact that believers do not know what they ought to pray (lit., “what we should pray as it is necessary”). In their weakness both the content and the manner of proper prayer eludes them, but the Spirit Himself comes to their rescue and intercedes (pres. tense, “keeps on interceding”) for us with groans that words cannot express. Natural Creation groans (Rom. 8:22) and believers groan (v. 23), and so does the Holy Spirit. The groaning is done by the Holy Spirit, not believers, and is not stated in words. The help the Spirit gives (v. 26) is His interceding. “Intercedes” translates hyperentynchanei, which occurs only here in the New Testament; it means “approaches or appeals to someone.” The One who searches our hearts is God (1 Sam. 16:7; Heb. 4:13), and He knows (oiden, “knows perceptively or intuitively”) the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes (entynchanei; cf. Rom. 8:26) for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Even though the Spirit’s words are not expressed, the Father knows what the Spirit is thinking. This is an interesting statement about the Father’s omniscience and the intimacy within the Trinity. The Lord Jesus continually intercedes for believers in God’s presence (v. 34; Heb. 7:25) and the Holy Spirit also intercedes on their behalf! Though believers are ignorant of what to pray for and how to voice those requests, the Spirit voices their requests for them.3
2 The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church (New York: The Seabury Press, 1976), 43–44.