Language can be tricky, and sometimes when we hear or read something, the words and the wording can seem ambiguous. Then add in our perspectives and frame of mind and our understanding can be different from what was actually meant.
I experienced this as I was meditating on Romans 8:26. “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” (NIV). I’ve always understood the verse to mean the Holy Spirit prays to the Father for us, as in defending or pleading our case as a lawyer would. Maybe you’ve thought of it this way too. I’ve heard it explained like that. But when I looked at other translations, I found wording that caused me to say “miners, not minors.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with the movie, this is a line from Galaxy Quest, one of my top ten movies of all time. When the crew are out searching for a beryllium sphere, they come across some child-sized alien creatures, who extract the beryllium from the ground. Gwen says, oh how cute, they must be minors. Dr. Lazarus says, miners, not minors!
The Contemporary English Version puts it this way: “In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.” The Holy Spirit doesn’t pray for us, he prays for us. He takes our garbled, jumbled thoughts that we aim at God and call prayers, and translates them into wordless or inarticulate groanings.
Even though we often don’t know how to pray, what to pray for or just can’t find any words, we don’t have to worry about it. The Holy Spirit is always helping us by merging our own wordless groans with his. Knowing that he prays for us makes me thankful for the freedom he gives us through his grace, even when it comes to praying.