The Spirit’s Ministry in Prayer – Wuest

The following is a Greek commentary, taken from Wuest Word Studies – K. S. Wuest

The infirmities in Romans 8:26-27 have to do with certain weaknesses in our prayer life.

Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26, 27 King James Version

The Holy Spirit, Paul says, helps them. The Greek word translated “helpeth,” literally means “to lend a hand together with, and at the same time with one.” Martha used the same word when appealing to our Lord to bid Mary help her with the preparation of the meal (Luke 10:40). The Holy Spirit lends a hand together with us as we are praying. It is not that He helps us bear our weaknesses, but He helps our weaknesses.

The weaknesses spoken of here are two, what we should pray for, the matter of prayer, and how we should pray, the form and manner of our prayer. The word “what” has an article before it in the Greek. Literally, we do not know “the what” to pray for. That is, we do not know the particular definite thing to pray for. As to the general subjects for prayer, the salvation of the lost, the sanctification of the saints, our daily needs, these we know of. But to be specific in our praying involves a knowledge of God’s will in particular instances, and of that we are naturally ignorant. It is right here that the Spirit comes to our aid.

The word “pray” is from a Greek word made up of a word which means “to pray,” with a prefixed preposition which means literally “toward.” The composite word refers to prayer directed to God, a conscious definite commitment to Him of our needs, our desires, our petitions. The Holy Spirit thus energizes the saint along the line of prayer for particular things which are according to the will of God, prayer directed consciously to Him.

The word translated “know,” is not the Greek word which means “knowledge gained by experience,” but “knowledge that is intuitive, natural to one’s being and constitution.” We do not have intuitive knowledge of the particular thing to pray for. The word “ought” is the same word used in John 3:7 in the word “must.” Literally, it means, “it is necessary in the nature of the case.” The necessity in the nature of the case is found in the fact that God brings His plans to fruition through the prayers of the saints, and in order for us to pray according to the will of God, we must be so yielded to the control of the Spirit that He can bring into our prayer ministry, the things which God is planning to accomplish. It is clear, therefore, that in order to pray aright, we must be filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit Himself, not “itself,” should be the translation here. The word “spirit” in the Greek language is in the neuter gender, and consequently, its pronoun is neuter. But the Holy Spirit is a Person, and should not be referred to as “it.” The translation should be according to sense here, not grammar.

He makes intercession. This word comes from a Greek word which is most picturesque. It is used of one who happens upon one who is in trouble and pleads in that one’s behalf. As Alford says, “The Holy Spirit of God dwelling in us, knowing our wants better than we, Himself pleads in our prayers, raising us to higher and holier desires than we can express in words, which can only find utterance in sighings and aspirations.”

God the Father who searches the hearts of His saints for their prayers, uttered and unexpressed, interprets those inarticulate sighings of the Spirit in us by reason of the fact that the Spirit pleads for us and in us and through us according to the will of God.

The lesson for us here is that if we expect to have an intelligent, powerful, rich prayer life, we must live Spirit controlled lives.

Editor’s Addition: I believe the praying in the Spirit mentioned here refers to praying in tongues. More specifically, the intercession aspect of praying in tongues, where the Holy Spirit moves us into deep groanings. While praying in tongues you do not know exactly what the words or sounds mean. You must believe that you are praying the perfect prayer aligned with the perfect will of God. You can know this because it is the Holy Spirit praying through you.

The Holy Spirit lends us a helping hand in prayer because we do not know what exactly to pray, but He does.


  1. I hope I am still able to comment. Praise God for the Holy Spirit. He is the difference maker indeed. He is our Guide and where He leads we should follow. Thank you.

    1. All things are possible if we are willing and able to submit to what we have been given, if not we will be like a person in a boat on an open ocean without any motor to carry us to the other side. The motor we have been given is the Holy Spirit, then rest in the power you have, and let Him guide you HOME.

      1. Author


        There is no telling how far a person can go when he knows that the wind in his sails comes from God.


  2. When we look at this in conjunction with Jude 20 and I Cor 14: 2, 4-5, 13-15 we begin to see that as we pray in the Spirit (in tongues), with those groanings too deep for utterance in articulate speech, as the Spirit joins with us and leads us to pray for “the exact what”, we should also be praying for and expecting the Holy Spirit to give us fresh revelation or Rhema from the Word that we can also speak with articulate speech in our prayers over that for which we are praying. Taking that quickened, revealed logos (Word) from His Word and putting it in our prayer with the understanding that His Word not return to Him void and without effect but accomplishing that for which He sent it.

  3. What an AWESOME reminder of the goodness of God! He not only tells us to pray…but tells us what to pray, when to pray, and how to pray. When necessary, His Spirit prays for us!

  4. Am so grateful to God for making me to be a part of this Ministry, God bless from West Africa (Nigeria).

  5. My husband, had a stroke, over a year ago. He has some mental problems now. I’m his primary care giver. It’s really hard on me at times. We had to put our house on the market. We need to sell. We can’t take care of it anymore and because of our age and health, it’s too much. It’s been on the market, 3 wks. now, no one yet has come to look at it. It is a beautiful property, God blessed us with it, 9 yrs. ago. I’m taking a chance, on asking you to pray for us. I pray you will. I read the above stories. I was blessed to read them.

  6. Glorious teaching…..this is what I have looked for for so long

    Thanks to my God…..

  7. I don’t really know how I found this website, but, I’m so thankful. I’m thankful not just for me but for every child of God or sinner that needs an on time help. I believe this website meets needs of people that you may never even realize.

  8. ” A knowledge of God’s will in Particular instances, and of that we are naturally ignorant.”

    But doesn’t the Holy Spirit and his still small voice, spoken to us during prayer as a leading, make us knowledgeable of certain instances in our life, and the direction we should take? I have certainly relied on the still small voice, and though I don’t always understand the direction, it gives me faith to move forward.

    1. Author

      Ken Mac – I agree with you. That still small voice of the Holy Spirit is one of the main guides in our life, of course, along with the written word of God. That said, I have two comments.

      First, when we pray in the spirit concerning something in prayer we may have a general impression of the issue but the Spirit is praying specifically and accurately about all the little particulars involved. I believe the whole context of Romans 8:26, 27 is about exactly that. That we don’t exactly know what we are praying about, but we can rest assured that the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God and that He is praying (through us) the perfect will of God, and “working all (the little) things together.” And, we can be assured that the perfect will of God is good for all those who love God and are called according to His purpose – Romans 8:28.

      Second, the more we pray in the spirit like this the more we know about the thing we are praying about. Oral Roberts says that this is how God led him in his ministry. He would pray in the spirit until he got the answer, either through an impression in his heart or by the interpretation of tongues. Rex

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