New City Catechism 37.3

Question 37: How does the Holy Spirit help us?


Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word.


How does the Holy Spirit enable us to pray? According to Paul in Romans 8:15, the Spirit enables us to cry out to God, “Abba! Father!” The word “Abba” is an Aramaic term of affection that Jesus used in addressing the Father (Mark 14:36). Paul, drawing on Jesus’ own practice of prayer, teaches that the Holy Spirit empowers us to call upon God in the same way that Jesus did. This is because he is the Spirit of adoption, the one who brings into our hearts the consciousness of our sonship. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can truly look to God as our Father and cry out to him as such.


Furthermore, Paul goes on to say that in our own weaknesses we do not know how to pray as we ought. We are limited in perception, limited in wisdom, limited in understanding how events should unfold in our lives and in this world for the fulfillment of God’s will for his glory and our good. Thankfully, in our weakness the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26). The intercession of the Spirit for us ensures that God’s purpose for our good will not fail to come to pass (Rom. 8:27-30).


Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Romans 8:1-30. What does Paul teach about the Holy Spirit in this passage? How does it apply to our lives?


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