The Spirit Helps Us In Our Weakness- Romans 8:26

In our previous post, we examined Paul’s thorn in the flesh, and how he saw it as a gift from God to help him be aware of his own weakness, for it is only those who realize their weakness who will look to the Spirit as their strength. In Romans 8:26, Paul tells us the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, particularly in the context of prayer, which is one of the things Paul learned to rely on the Spirit to help in his weakness in. We will now examine Philippians 4:4-10 to see exactly what Paul means and how the Spirit helps us in prayer. He begins in verse 4 with a command to “rejoice always”, repeating the word rejoice twice for emphasis. The verb rejoice here is in the imperative mood. it is a command, and what is of note here is that joy can be commanded. This lets us know that joy, in essence, is not an emotion, for you cannot command an emotion, they just happen. Joy is a choice, it is not something we feel but something we choose to do. This is why we can be joyful in all circumstances, because joy is not dependent on the circumstances, we can choose to be joyful no matter what the circumstance, and verses 6-9 will show us Paul’s method for remaining joyful in all circumstances. He then moves on to another command in verse 5, telling us to be gentle to all, with the gentleness being the primary evidence of our joyfulness. The Greek word translated gentle here carries the primary idea of being “big-hearted”, and consists of the qualities of forebearance, yieldedness, geniality, kindness, gentleness, considerateness, magnaminity and generosity, all of which is very hard to capture in one English word. This gentleness is to be evident to all, it is not selective, not based upon whether or not we like the other person, it is plain for all to see. We are to choose joy and gentleness because the “Lord is near”, or more literally the Lord is “close at hand”. We are to choose joy and gentleness because the Lord is close at hand, he is close enough to reach out and touch us at all times, we are always in His presence and He is always watching and always there to help us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Paul then proceeds in verse 6 with another command, a command to be “anxious for nothing”. This anxiety is contrasted with joy, and it is also a choice. Just as we can choose to be joyful, we can also choose to be anxious, and we are commanded to be anxious about nothing, and Paul then gives us his primary method for being joyful and not anxious in all things, and that method is prayer. Paul uses here two Greek words, translated as “prayer and petition”. The first word is proseuchomai, which refers to an approach made to deity, and the second is deomai, which refers to a petition to one in power to fill a need of the one petitioning. We approach God in prayer, spending time communicating with Him, both speaking and listening, for “in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), spending time in His presence always brings joy, prayer by its very nature will help to make us joyful, help us to choose joy. While we are in His presence, we are to bring our petitions, the Greek word deomai. We are commanded to ask Him to meet our needs, and He promises us He will meet our needs, but never promises to meet our every want, He will not give us all that we want, but will instead give us all we need, for He is God and we are not, and only he knows what we truly need to be joyful and gentle. We find then that these petitions are always in the form of requests, not demands. God has granted us the privilege of coming before Him in prayer, of letting Him know what we would like to see in a certain situation, but we must always keep in mind that these are requests, that when we come to God in prayer we are committing the situation to Him, telling Him what we would like to see happen but always understanding that He is Lord and He knows best, and will do what is best for us no matter what. We are also to present our requests with thanksgiving, which here functions as an expression of faith. This is a grateful acknowledgement of who God is, and of what He has done and will do. This is leaving the situation in His hands, committing it to Him to do what He knows is best for us in every circumstance. We know who He is and what he is like, and we thank Him beforehand for the fact that He will do what is truly best for us in every situation which we place in His hands through prayer. In verse 4-6, we have seen Paul’s primary method of relying upon the Spirit to help him in his weakness. Our next post will examine verses 7-10 to see the result this reliance upon God in prayer produced in Paul’s life, and will produce in ours if we obey his commands here.

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