Second Reading: Romans 8:26-27

The Ways of the Spirit

Have you ever felt words weren't enough to express a deeply held feeling? What did you do in that moment?

Popular Translation

We hope for the day Jesus will come. Since we have not seen that day yet, we will wait patiently.

26 Like patience, the Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don't know what we really should pray for, but the Spirit urgently asks God for us in ways we don't understand. 27 God searches our hearts. He knows the way the Spirit works, even as it prays for the saints.

Literal Translation

26 Likewise, the Spirit assists (us) in our weakness. For we do not know the (petitions) which we should pray for as needed, but the Spirit itself urgently appeals (to God) in unexpressible groans. 27 The One searching hearts know what (is) the reasoning of the Spirit, that appeals on behalf of the saints according to (the will of) God.

We humans are incomplete. While we might be tempted to think we can know all things and reduce all knowledge to language, we keep bumping into mystery. We become awestruck. We find our abilities to know and to communicate are outstripped by the reality before us. In those moments, we realize that we are not self-contained, nor are we the center of the universe. In fact, we find the end-all and be-all is that which is far greater than we can even image. We find God.

Before God we truly become speechless. But that does not mean God does not know our deepest yearnings. His Spirit appeals on our behalf in ways we cannot even image. Sometimes, we Christians see prayer as a simple conversation between Creator and creature. Or, we define prayer as a ritual repetition we use to present ourselves before God. Prayer is even a mode of being we find when we are "in tune" with divinity. Prayer is all these things, but it is much deeper. For all these descriptions and definitions assume we are the agents of prayer. But that is really not the case. The Spirit is the cause and medium of prayer. When we sincerely pray, we are simply instruments of the Spirit. Even when we utter nonsense in a prayer of desperation, the Spirit is really speaking through us. That thought should give us comfort. If we really seek to pray in God's will, we pray not only in the Spirit, our prayers come from the Spirit. Prayer is God-originated, God-directed, and God-oriented. Whether our prayers are clearly spoken or pure mumbling, They come through the Spirit.

We humans are incomplete, but the Spirit gives us fulfillment. With the Spirit, we have the ear of God. And with the Spirit, we can find the ways of God. We may not understand how the Spirit works, but we can trust in the results.

Begin your prayer this week with an appeal to the Spirit. Acknowledge his presence and activity in your life, especially your prayer life. Ask the Spirit for his strength and wisdom.