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When There Are No Words to Pray
Reflecting on the Day of Pentecost: Two Days after Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Old Testament: Ezekiel 39:7-8, 21-29
Romans: Romans 8:26-27
O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes[a] with groanings too deep for words. And God,who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to pray. On a global scale, we see war, famine, pestilence, evil, violence, and war. It seems there are no words in human language that can express what we want to say to God about the calamities, destruction, and the loss of life.
Sometimes we also don’t know how to pray for the small things on the personal scale. We know someone is sick and we pray for healing. We hear that someone is grieving the loss of a loved one, and so we pray for comfort. We also lift our own petitions to God for our own personal challenges and struggles; but at times it’s difficult to know how to pray. It is not selfish or self-centered to pray for our needs, but we mustn’t get so caught up in them, we forget to pray for those around us and for those in the world we don’t even know.
Saint Paul writes in Romans 8: 26-27,
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that the very spirit intercedes with sighs, too deep for words. And God who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the Saints according to the will of God."
When we pray, we do not pray alone. God’s Spirit that is with us assists us when words fail us. When we are not sure how to pray, the Spirit knows the depths of our groanings, cares, fears, and concerns and can intercede on our behalf. The Holy Spirit intercedes when language fails us. Some deeply felt angst cannot be translated into human word, but nevertheless is understood by God who searches the heart. God knows the mind of the Spirit that is in each and everyone of us.
We must never allow our inability to know what to pray or how to pray keep us from praying. For when our words fall short, the Holy Spirit picks up our groanings and offers them to the Father on our behalf.
That indeed is good news.
PRAYER: Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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