Prayers on Our Behalf

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Romans 8:18-26

With groanings too deep for words. (v. 26)

Paul’s letter to the Romans runs deep with conviction about what the death and resurrection of Christ mean for believers. What might it mean, for instance, that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that is going to be revealed to us (v. 18)? Sometimes our sufferings, or those of others near and far, feel downright crushing; it is hard to imagine a glory so spectacular that we would think back to those sufferings and say, “Never mind.” This is part of the challenge of living between the times of Christ’s resurrection and his ultimate return. The whole creation longs for the fullness of God’s purposes to be made real, and we humans find ourselves in situations where “we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (v. 26).

I have witnessed many of those situations. Do we pray for a miracle? Do we pray for this person’s suffering to be alleviated, even if that means death is close at hand? The image of the Spirit groaning on our behalf is a picture of intercession that surpasses our words and our control. It is a groan that echoes the labor pains of all creation, pushing toward the restored life that is God’s ultimate trajectory for creation. It is the groan that understands the sting of death, and which holds the promise of that new dawn—a dawn that is both in the past and in our future—when death has lost its sting forever.

—Jessica Bratt Carle

Prayer: Holy Spirit, conform our prayers to your will.