By Dr. Orrel Steincamp, The Plumbline Newsletter Archive

When things get bad we groan. Sometimes a groan is audible, but at other times groaning is internal. In the last months, I have to confess that I learned to groan even audibly. In what seemed to me as a perfect storm, I succumbed to groaning. First it was a major back pain which culminated in back surgery in September.

Then followed weeks and then months of recovery. It turned to agony. This shameful time of agony is lifting and I am attempting to return to a ministry of writing the newsletter Plumbline. Thanks so much to those who knew my condition and continued in prayer for me.

In Romans chapter 8 Paul writes about groaning. He begins by asserting that even creation is groaning and awaiting its deliverance from the bondage to decay to which all creation was  subjected in futility awaiting the revelation of God’s glory.

“For we know the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:22). Paul continues: “And now not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the  adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom. 8:23).

There is a teaching by Paul that is of inestimable value to groaning Christians:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know WHAT to pray for asas we ought, but the Spirit himself INTERCEDES for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is  mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit INTERCEDES according to the the Will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27).

What a wonderful passage for groaning Christians. I have been a Christian since I was 19. I have attended Bible college and studied for a doctorate in Christian theology. Though I read this passage above, I have never given it much thought and NEVER heard it preached or taught.

I am so glad this passage came alive for me as I groaned with my recent physical trial. Thomas Scheiner, a prof in my theological training, has explained this passage better than I could ever do:

“Romans 8:26-27 may be one of the most remarkable texts on prayer in Paul… This prayer is situated inin a context that features the hope of believers (Rom. 8:28-39)… The believers problem is their weakness…

Believers have all kinds of weaknesses, but the weakness here is insufficient knowledge relative to prayer. The text, contra to some commentators and translations, does not say that we do not know how to pray… Believers are weak in that they do not know what to pray for…

Surely, Paul does not mean to say that believers are always uncertain in prayer. Often we know what God intends for our lives… Paul here considers the many situations in which we are ignorant of God’s will… Nor does God usually reveal his will to us in these situations.

Instead the Spirit comes to the aid of believers in such situations… He helps by interceding to God for us… Romans 8:27 indicates God, who searches the hearts of all people, knows the mindset of the Spirit since the Spirit intercedes for believers  in accord with God’s will.

This probably means that God always answers in the affirmative because such prayers are invariably in accord with God’s will, and God always fulfills his will. The comfort for believers is inestimable. We are often perplexed regarding what God’s will is, and therefore we are uncertain in prayer.

But the Spirit always prays in God’s will. He (The Spirit) always knows  what God wants. Since his prayers are in harmony with God’s design, God always  answers the Spirit’s intercession for believers, for God is certainly fulfilling his will in their lives.

He is working all things for their good, conforming them to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:28-29). The answers to such prayers may not fit with what believers want, but  they are in accord with  what we need. Believers are endued with hope, knowing that God is fulfilling his will in their lives…

God deciphers the mindset of the Spirit by searching our hearts. He detects the mindset of the Spirit in and through  our groanings. These very (inarticulate) groanings are produced by the Holy Spirit and thus they are his groanings as well.

In any case, the Spirit’s prayers are answered, and God works out his good purpose in the lives of his people.”1.

Concluding Remarks

I not only groan for my self but also for the Neo-Evangelical Movement, now a mere 50 years old. This movement is winding down quickly and discerning voices within and without see it as fading fast. The Neo Evangelical leaders, like lemmings, are scurrying into what Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries calls an Evangelical Ecumenical Magisterium.2

These celebrity pastors  are creating a  top down movement that has probably already spelled the end of the movement. As the wider pan-evangelical movement rushes into  God’s judgment, what should we pray for? Should we pray for a merciful quick death with no life support or do we pray for a miraculous recovery?

An enlarging pantheon of mega-church pastors are apparently being drawn like a moth to the light, to endorse heretical Word Faith pastors causing a convergence of celebrity Evangelicalism with the biggest names in the W/F movement. This is producing a new hybrid of  Evangelical syncretism with evangelical  and WFers exchanging platforms faster then can be counted with WF, Roman Catholic contemplatives and  IHOPers.

It began with John Piper, the mentor of the young and restless New Calvinists, inviting Rick Warren to his pastors conference. The Elephant Room affair, James McDonald  and  Mark Driscoll. leading managed to give T.D. Jakes a Jesus Only W/F leader a theological pass.3 This became a sort of template for others.

Steven Furtick was invited to Joel Osteen’s platform.4 The Billy Graham organization gave Cindy Trimm, W/F celebrity, an achievement award.5 Most recently Francis Chan, Neo-Calvinist, endorsed IHOP and its NAR “Apostle/Prophet” Mike Bickle.6 Meanwhile Emergents (Brian Mclaren, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet. etc.) are accepted as Evangelicals.

So what should we pray for? I think the safest thing to do is just groan. See the website Apprising Ministries for a daily account of these matters.

Orrel Steinkamp, Plumbline, 74425, Co. Rd. 21, Renville,MN 56284

Further reading


  1. Thomas Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory, Downers Grove, IVF, 2001, pp 298-300
  2. e.g. Perry Noble, Jack Graham, And Quasi-Word Faith Preachers
  3. James MacDonald Was A Bit Late In Mainstreaming T.D. Jakes
  4. Steven Furtick As Televagelist At Lakewood Church Of Joel Osteen
  5. Word Faith Heretic Cindy Trimm Receives Award From Billy Graham Evangelicstic Association
  6. Francis Chan Declares “I Love Mike Bickle” Of IHOP