March 19 – Romans 8:26-28


Main focus: God is closer and more available than we realize, and the Spirit is working tirelessly to help us in our weakness.

Of the many things we could say about the Spirit, his role as intercessor is a little niche. However, much like our week on Father, Intercessor provides us with a healthy check on our common assumptions about God. Though we might think of God as uninvolved, unreachable, disinterested, or dispassionate, here we find that he is precisely the opposite. 

In discussion we’ll skim back through Romans 8, where we’ll see that the Spirit is working tirelessly to make us alive with Jesus’s resurrection life. As a reminder, our theme this year is “All of God for All of Us.” In this chapter we see how emphatically for us God is. He works to set us free from the law of sin and death (8:2), makes readily available the things of God for us to set our mind on (8:5-6), comes to dwell in us (8:9), brings us spiritual life (8:9-11), helps us put to death the deeds of the body (8:13), leads us (8:14), gives us the cry of “Abba! Father!” (8:15), bears witness to our spirits that we are children of God (8:16), helps us in our weakness (8:26), and finally, he intercedes for us (8:26-27). 

I’d guess you maybe haven’t used the word “intercessor” in casual conversation in…ever. To intercede is to mediate, to advocate for someone with a higher authority, and, religiously, to beseech God on someone else’s behalf. We tend to do this with people we feel are closer to God than us, like a praying grandmother or a pastor we know—we ask them to pray for us because, on some level, we think their prayers have more juice than ours. That’s why this verse should blow our minds; the Spirit prays for us, and who could pray with more juice than God himself?

Which, to be clear, that doesn’t mean God has dissociative identity disorder; he’s not up in heaven talking to himself with different voices. This is a more full-orbed understanding of what it means for the Trinity to exist in three persons, operating in different roles with one another but united in substance, affection, and purpose. Here’s the beautiful assurance in these verses: within the infinite, mysterious interworkings of the Trinity, God’s attention toward and love for his children is being stoked by the interactions of the Godhead. How incredible is that!

The Spirit is constantly working for our benefit, to fill us with the life of Jesus. In discussion we’ll go on to talk about how that can help us understand God’s attitude towards us. We see so clearly his affection, his nearness, how for us he is. This work of the Spirit on our behalf  is a helpful addition to where the passage left off last week; yes, the Spirit saves us (2 Cor 3:17; Rom 8:2), and yes, the Spirit sanctifies us (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:9-11). But we can’t consider the Spirit without recognizing that he actively fights for God’s children, pleading for them before the Father and replenishing their weakness with his inexhaustible strength. 

Finally, going all the way through 8:28 will also give us a moment to read this bumper sticker verse in context. Certainly, this promise is neither solely about nor fully excludes creaturely comforts, but more essentially, what could we mean by “good” aside from the very same “will of God” (8:27) to which the Spirit himself conforms? (also cf. 8:17; Matt 26:39) We’ll finish discussion, however, by focusing on our primary means of engaging with the Spirit: prayer. God’s clear affection for us, and all the help that the Spirit provides, should drive us to God in prayer and set the tone for our prayers. We come to a God who is for us. Remembering as much will help us desire and cultivate our prayer life, and be willing to eliminate those things that would undermine or rob us of such precious time with our God.

Questions for Discussion

• Could someone read Romans 8:26-28 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• Could someone (or a couple people) read Romans 8:1-25 for us?

• Based on this chapter, what all does the Spirit do for and in us?

• How can that help us understand God’s attitude towards us?

• In what ways do you need to grow in embracing that attitude towards you?

• How might this passage inform the way you engage with the Spirit in prayer?

• What’s something that works against your practice of prayer? What would it look like this week to eliminate or restrict that thing?