Saturday, December 3, 2022

Go Beyond Words: The Art of Groaning Prayer

How I stumbled Across Groaning in Prayer

When I first got saved, I discovered that I would groan in deep prayer or when I was in a deeply spiritual setting. I started to dig into the bible to see if it was biblical. It took me quite some time to even notice that I was groaning in prayer. It would happen when I waded deep into the spirit or when I was with a group of people and the prayer got really deep. So deep that you could sense the manifest presence of God in the room. 

Prayer & Groaning 

Prayer is a familiar concept to many of us. Whether we’re alone or in a group, it can be used for devotion and as a way to commune with God. But what about groaning? Can this also be part of our prayer life? I believe the answer is yes! Groaning – both in the spiritual sense and in the physical act of uttering sounds – has been used throughout history as an expression of prayer. I m sure you've seen pictures of people on their knees or laying prostrate before an image of Jesus. In the background you see them groaning and sobbing, often while clutching their hands in prayer position. 

Similarly, Paul says that he “groans within himself” (Romans 8:26) while praying. 

In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.(Rom 8:26 AMP)

What Does the Bible Say? 

When it comes to the question of groaning prayer, what does the Bible say? Groaning is an emotional expression often used in pleas for help or comfort, but is it an appropriate way to express a prayer to God? Let's take a closer look at what Scripture has to say about this form of communication with the Creator. 

Various passages throughout Scripture make reference to groaning prayers as a valid method of communicating with God. In Romans 8:26-27, Paul writes that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. God intercedes for the saints according to his own will." Here we see that God responds to our prayers based on His own will, and that the Spirit helps us communicate with Him in a way that is beyond our natural ability. 

Examples of Groaning Prayer in Scripture 

Groaning prayer, or expressing one’s prayers to God in the form of a deep groan or sigh, is a practice that has long been used by believers. It can be found throughout scripture as an expression of hardship and suffering. The Bible contains many examples of groaning prayer that are worth exploring.

One example of groaning prayer comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:23-24 which states “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons”. Here Paul expresses his longing for redemption and forgiveness through this type of prayer. 

Another example of groaning prayer in Scripture is the aforementioned Romans 8:26-27 when the Apostle Paul says “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV) Here, we see an example of how believers can cry out to God without necessarily using words to express their needs and desires. 

Additionally, Psalm 5:1-3 describes a situation where David cries out to God with intense emotion and anguish by using loud cries and tears as part of his form of communication with Him. 

A Psalm of David. Listen to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning and sighing. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray. In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].(Psa 5:1-3 AMP+)

I believe Jesus groaned within Himself in Gethsemane (see Matt. 26:37,38; Mark 14:33-35). We may not know what Jesus groaned about, but the idea is that He was so burdened by His coming ordeal that He had to sigh deeply within Himself in order to pray. Groaning seems appropriate when we cannot find the words, but the spirit knows. Scripture isn't explicit, but it seems like this Scripture is in agreement with others elsewhere.

Jesus groaned in the spirit and was troubled when He saw Mary weeping at the tomb of Lazarus (see John 11:33). In this case, groaning was a sign of empathy and sorrow. 

Challenges to Groaning Prayer 

Though it may be seen as a form of spiritual expression, groaning prayer has its challenges. Those who practice groaning prayer must be able to discern the difference between true spiritual expressions and something that isn’t from God. Additionally, it can also be difficult for some people to know when or how to begin groaning in prayer, as such an activity requires one to have an intimate knowledge of scripture and the nature of God. My personal experience is when I am deeply lost in prayer, groaning just seems to happen. It is not something that I initiated, but the Spirit gave utterance. 

Groaning in the spirit during prayer is biblical 

Groaning in the spirit during prayer is absolutely biblical and has been documented throughout Christian history. It's a powerful tool that allows Christians to express their faith and draw closer to God. Many Bible verses reference groaning in prayer, from Paul's description of the Spirit interceding with us when we are unable to find words (Romans 8:26) to Jesus' heartbreaking cries for His Father's will be done (Matthew 26:39). 

The idea of groaning prayer can be traced back as far as the Old Testament book of Psalms, where David pleads with God using passionate cries and supplications. We also see examples in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Job—all of whom use language reflective of deep feeling within their prayers which would be another way of saying 'groaning'. 

In Conclusion

I didn't set out to groan in prayer. It is something that happened when I got lost deep in prayer. The bible examples seem to tie groaning to desperation. 

Verses to Pray About 

Here are some verses to ponder on about groaning in prayer. Pray about these and let me know what revelation you get!

Exo   2:24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

Exo   6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.

Psa   6:6 I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

Joh   11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

Joh   11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

Rom   8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

2Co   5:2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven

2Co   5:4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

You may also like - Groaning Intercession - Daniel Nash 

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