Leaning towards our promised eternal life

Waiting for things patiently is a quality that must be developed in us (see Romans 5:3–4; James 1:3–4; 5:11; Revelation 13:10; 14:12). Patience is one of the Spirit’s fruit borne in our lives. It includes fortitude, endurance, and the ability to bear up under pressure in order to attain the desired goal.

In the same way that our “hope” gives us fortitude, the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. At times, our weakness is so intense that we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. At those times, the Spirit voices our requests for us. He intercedes by appealing to the only one who can help us, God himself. We may not know the right words to say, but the Holy Spirit does. His groanings to God become effective intercession on our behalf. (Romans 8:26)

The companionship of the Spirit in prayer is one of the themes of this chapter. Here, the Spirit literally “joins in to help” us, expressing for us what we can’t fully express for ourselves. How should we pray?

• Utilize all the forms prayer takes: adoration, confession, petition, thanksgiving, and meditation. As we pray, we should trust the Spirit to make perfect what is imperfect.

• Listen during prayer. We should ask the Spirit to search our hearts and minds, and then we should be silent.

• Practice prayer as a habit.

• Combine prayer with other regular spiritual disciplines (see Philippians 4:4–8).

• Confess sins that the Spirit points out.

The Father knows all hearts and he knows what the Spirit is saying (see Romans 8:26-27). God can look deep, past our inarticulate groanings, to understand the need we face, our hidden feelings. Even when we don’t know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with and for us, always in harmony with God’s own will. With God helping us pray, we don’t need to be afraid to come before him.

Because the Spirit’s efforts on our behalf are carried out in full agreement with God’s will, everything that happens to us in this life is directed toward that goal. What happens may not itself be “good,” but God will cause everything to work together for the ultimate good of his children, to meet his ultimate purpose for their maturity. The point is, God works all things for good, not “all things work out.” (Romans 8:28) Suffering will still bring pain, loss, and sorrow, and sin will bring shame. But under God’s control, the eventual outcome will be for our good.

God works behind the scenes, ensuring that even in the middle of mistakes and tragedies, good will result for those who love him. At times this will happen quickly, often enough to help us trust the principle. But there will also be events whose results for good we will not know until eternity. Our ultimate destiny is to be like Christ. God’s design is more than just an invitation; God summons us with a purpose in mind: we are to be like Christ and share his glory.

1Barton, B., Comfort, P., Osborne, G., Taylor, L. K., & Veerman, D. (2001). Life Application New Testament Commentary