When There’s No Words

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside us helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keep us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:26-28, The Message)

This is one of those nights. Every Wednesday it’s time to write, to find words, to play with a spiritual thought or theological idea. But tonight for some reason (or for many reasons) I can’t find any words to put together. Tonight the thoughts and ideas don’t come. Usually when this is the case — and it’s more often than I care to admit — it’s because my soul is weary. Mea Culpa.

The solution when there’s work to be done, and I can’t do the work, is to find the good work of some other saint, some other pilgrim. A prayer, a hymn, a devotion, hopefully some lengthy quote that will more or less fill up the space of the page enough to count. And I could do that! I have lots of underlined and marked up books to share.

But tonight, it won’t do, if I’m honest. There are times like now when there are no words, nothing profound or even thoughtful, and that’s ok according to St. Paul. In our restlessness, in our exhaustion, in our sorrows and stresses and uncertainties, the Spirit of God goes to work, ministering to us, and making sense out of our groaning. I love how Eugene Peterson’s translation gives us “wordless sighs” and “aching groans”.

If he’s right, then I don’t have to find words, or work to make up some thought, or do anything at all for God to understand and receive my prayers. In fact, God knows what’s going on in me better than I do! Trusting this news, I can let go of any and all need to perform, to produce, to perfect the articulation of spiritual life. I can give in to the void, I can acknowledge my moment of emptiness, or weariness, or whatever, and this is every bit as spiritual as all the things I do normally to cover this up.

There it is! God bless us, one an all.

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