Moans and Groans

The book of Romans is commonly considered the greatest exposition of Christian doctrine. It is filled with great themes of the guilt of all mankind, redemption, the free gift of salvation, and the work of the Holy Spirit. One of those works of the Spirit is prayer. It is surprising that in the midst of deep theological discourses from Paul, he talks about prayer in the basest of terms…moans and groans.

Moans and groans. The older we get, the more we utter those sounds. But did you know that these inaudible sounds are ordained in scripture? Did you know that they are actually an important part of your prayer life? They are! And they can be very powerful weapons of spiritual warfare!

Romans 8:22 says that “all creation groans.” That word in Greek means “to sigh, pray inaudibly; to have a deep tone; to murmur.” Creation was subject to a curse after the fall of Adam and Eve (Gen.3:17). That is one of the reasons this world is full of strife, toiling, and death. Creation literally groans with anxious longing…it awaits being set free and its liberation from the “bondage of decay.” (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of subject)

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom.8:19-21)

Not only does creation groan, but Romans 8:23 says that we, ourselves, groan. We live in bodies that are in a constant state of decay (2 Cor.4:16). We groan because although our souls are saved, our bodies are still subject to sin, pain, and decay. However, we look forward with hope to our resurrected bodies which will be free from physical frailty and sin.

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor.15:51-53)

But there is yet another aspect of groaning…those deep inexpressible emotions in our soul. As we struggle to express the deep pain or affliction in our hearts, God lovingly and mercifully steps in and gives those utterances a powerful voice through the Holy Spirit. These are not expressed in vain…they are not fruitless…they are not unheard because the Spirit is in them. When our souls are oppressed and overwhelmed, God lends us assistance and sustains us. He gives life to those inward sighs and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning’s which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom.8:26-28)

He brings our prayers to God and interprets them to God.  The Holy Spirit interprets to the Father what is really on our heart. What I think He actually does is He makes sense out of everything we pray and He straightens out and corrects every prayer so that they come out perfect, according to how we really feel.  Yes, the Spirit expresses to the Father our own feelings much better than we ever could and the Father accepts them as our own prayers. God is so faithful to respond to those moans and groans!

So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Ex.2:24)

Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Give heed to the voice of my cry,    My King and my God, for to You I will pray. (Ps.5:1-2)

He does. But we can never allow our groaning’s to become grumbling. God does not respond to grumbling. In fact, God commands us to “do all things without grumbling…” (Phil.2:14). This includes moaning and groaning.

Sometimes we shout with joy. There are times when we just sit quietly before the Father. There are still other times when we travail and cry out to our compassionate Lord. And in some moments, we simply talk to Him. But in those times of deep hurt and pain, I know that He hears and cares.

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