Romans 8:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 8:26, NIV: In the same way, 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.

Romans 8:26, ESV: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26, KJV: 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.

Romans 8:26, NASB: Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

Romans 8:26, NLT: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Romans 8:26, CSB: In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.

What does Romans 8:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This passage describes the difference between our future and our present, as Christians. Our future in Christ, as God's children and heirs of His kingdom, is everything we long for. Our present, though, is a life of longing, patient waiting, living in the hope of reality that has not yet arrived. We continue to suffer along with the rest of creation, to groan for the life to come.

How do live in the meantime? A large part of the answer to that question has to do with the Holy Spirit, given to every Christian when he or she comes to faith in Christ. God gives us His own Spirit as a deposit or down payment on that future we are longing for (Ephesians 1:13–14; 2 Corinthians 1:22).

Through the Spirit, God provides for us in many different ways on this side of eternity. Generally, he helps us in our weakness. Paul is acknowledging here that, even as Christians, we remain weak in and of ourselves. Physically, we remain creatures in fragile bodies with sometimes baffling emotions. Spiritually, we can become weak in our faith and/or in our resistance to sinful desires. As Paul will begin to make clear, however, God's Spirit with us makes all the difference. He continually helps us in and even through our weakness. He steps in. He helps with the burden.

More specifically, Paul writes that we are so weak that at times we do not know what to pray for! We have been given access, in prayer, to our Father God. We feel the need, the longing, for Him, but what do we ask for? The Spirit steps in and carries those unsaid "groanings"—those thoughts and feelings we simply cannot express in human words—to God. He both creates the connection from ourselves to God and provides the content of our communication.