Romans 8: 26-30
The good news we are reminded of from Paul’s letter is that we have not one but two intercessors for our faith journey—the Holy Spirit, who teaches us how to pray, and Christ, who sits on the right hand of God. Paul says that most of us do not take full advantage of them. It is because we do not know how to pray, Paul tells us. We often do not know how, or what, or why, and consequently, we are likely to avoid prayer altogether because we would rather not pray at all than do it wrong.
Isn’t it true that our prayer often tends to be one-way talking to God—“O God, I want you to do this and that, I wish this and that, I am sorry I did this and that.” Then, when all of our words run out, we open our eyes again, going back to reality. I wonder if we may give permission to ourselves with longings and hunger beyond our words and expressions—that is what the Holy Spirit really gets to work, bringing comfort and peace, which is the sense of God’s presence beyond our words and expressions.
I knew more about this when I was at Brite than I do now. I prayed and asked God to reveal God’s purpose for me, to point me in the right direction and to give me a sign. Those prayers were not pretty or formal. It often cried out and shouted out and even complained about—it was simple, messy, and desperate. I tried and tried again, prayed and prayed again, but I did not hear or feel any answers. I talked and talked at God until the words ran out, and then to my great surprise, I heard myself begin to sing—“It is well.”
It is a frightening world out there, and we have to face the complexity every day. Maybe, we want more certainty and a more specific answer for us. We want the definitive word, more than just “it is well.”
What does that mean for us, day to day, “It is well?” Perhaps, the problem, challenge, or difficulty we may face does not disappear, no matter how often we sing the hymn—“It is well.” Perhaps, “it is well,” and its phrase sometimes sounds like just a cliché. Perhaps “it is well” does not bring any sense of comfort or peace to us.
However, “it is well” can be fuel for us to live out our own stories, helping us keep seeking God’s will and plan for us and keep searching for God’s guidance about how and what and why to pray as we dwell in our own relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.
We will probably never stop asking God to give us certainties, but certainties do not have much to do with freedom or love or prayer, especially prayer. My challenge and invitation for all of us as we begin this week is to spend time not only talking to God but listening to God, and listening sometimes to what only sounds like silence, the sound so thin and so quiet, believing that we always have two advocates—the Holy Spirit who still works beyond our limitation--time, reason, or resources, and the Christ who makes our prayers acceptable to God.
Thanks be to God.