231116 – When God Groans

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” — Romans 8:26  

Have you ever been at a loss for words?  

This happened to me recently. I had just wrapped up an event in upstate New York called Reset. It was absolutely amazing to get together with some of the most amazing students and leaders in the country. We laughed together, we worshipped together, we played games together, and we got to celebrate together as students received Jesus! I was on cloud nine as I was driving through Pennsylvania on my way to a hotel in Scranton (home of The Office).  

Exhausted, I walked into the room and collapsed onto the bed. I was asleep in mere minutes. At four in the morning, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. The call startled me awake, so I picked it up. “Hello, Mr. Garrell, this is Officer Henderson” My heart sank. Was something wrong with my wife? Is my family okay? Am I being chased down by the police? The officer continued, “We just recovered your vehicle. It appears as through it was stolen and wrecked this morning.” I just started muttering. Naturally, I had so many questions, but my natural response was just to say. “Oh. Okay.”  

Things were far from okay. I loved my car. I was five hundred miles away from home. I didn’t have enough money to buy a new car. All of this stuff was rushing through my head, but all I could do was groan and say “okay.”  

Have you ever just sighed in disbelief? It’s completely normal to find yourself without words, because God hears our groans. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit miraculously transforms the groans of our heart into prayer. Paul is writing this passage to help his friends who are suffering. Paul doesn’t say, “the Holy Spirit intercedes for YOU.” Nope, he uses the word “us.” He is saying that He is right there with them. He knows what it’s like to struggle beyond clever sayings. He knows what’s like to be speechless. He knows what it’s like to feel weak. Paul has this encouragement for them — the Spirit within you will help you through your suffering.  

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you don’t even know what to say, I encourage you to pray. Don’t even try to come up with the words, just sigh and groan while reflecting on the reality of God’s presence within you. The Holy Spirit will work through your wordless groans.  

When you don’t know what to say — pray.  

Even when you don’t have the words, God hears your heart.