Summary: What should be our attitude when we allow the Holy Spirit to groan within us?

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The groanings of the Spirit

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It is sometimes difficult to know what to pray for. We know that we should pray, but words escape us. Paul promises us that in such times the Spirit will intercede on our behalf, groaning within us with words that we ourselves cannot give expression to (Romans 8:26).

The Greek uses several words to express this sort of inexpressible cry. In most cases, these words refer to public mourning or public shows of strong emotional grief.

Alalazo (214) describes the wailing done by the professional mourners hired to lament a death during the official time of mourning (Mark 5:38).

Dakruo (1145) is used once in the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept (John 11:35).

Threneo (2354) also refers to the official time of mourning. This refers to the singing of songs and the acting out of what today we would recognize as performance pieces which give public expression of private grief (Matt 11:17, Luke 23:27).

Klaio (2799) refers to emotionally charged weeping. Peter wept this way after he denied Jesus three times (Mat 26:75). In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, Jesus promises that those that weep this way are blessed (Luke 6:20).

Adurmos (3602) derives from a word meaning to sink down like the setting sun. It has a sense of descending into a profound depression and grief. Rachel crying for her dead children, refusing comfort, expresses this great mourning (Matt 2:18).

People crying,

People acting out a formally designed public expression of emotionalism,

People hiring others to express something they are unable to express themselves,

People expressing regret for their failures,

People sinking to the depths of despair, not knowing a way out.

There are many ways to express the groanings coming from the depths of your spirit. However, none of these describes how the Holy Spirit groans within us. This type of groaning means something entirely different.

Elsewhere I describe the strait gate that leads to salvation this way:


"The Greek implies that the gate is surrounded by obstacles and is therefore difficult to get to." The reason I argue for this is that stenos (4728) derives from histemi (2476) a word that means to stand still. In other words, salvation requires rescue from the things of this world that stand in our way preventing access to the gate. It is from this immoveability that the word for the groanings of the Holy Spirit comes from.

When the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt God heard their groanings. Slaves cannot move freely from place to place. They can only stand in place and groan, crying out to the Lord for their freedom.

In the same way, we groan within ourselves, awaiting the redemption of our bodies. (Ro 8:23)

We groan for the dwelling place that is awaiting us in heaven (2 Cor 5:2)

We are not to complain about each other, nor should we allow our leadership to complain about us (James 5:9, Hebrews 13:17). In these verses, Luther uses the German word seufzen, which means that we are not to cause our leaders to stand silently before the Lord and sigh over us.

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