Our scripture offers clues as to how prayer can help us draw closer to God. The opening verse says, “The people were filled with expectation.” Life with God, a life of prayer, works best when we expect God to be at work for our good—when we believe that God can and will work for our good.
Many Christians have lost the expectation edge; we have not made it a practice or a habit to expect God to do wonderful, fabulous, amazing things in our midst. But we can sharpen that edge this year. We can employ our eyes of faith and discover that when we look, we are more likely to see God at work.
The Holy Spirit receives mention in both of our passages and each bears witness to the Holy Spirit’s work in the world. The one coming does not bring what most of us would consider to be good news: a winnowing. Then verse 21 tells us that Jesus is praying. As he prays, the Holy Spirit manifests in their midst. A voice speaks and affirms Jesus as Son and Beloved. Here we glimpse the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Prayer brings relationship with God, moving us ever closer to intimacy with the Three-in-One. Had you been on the riverbank, would you have seen? Would you have heard?
We in the church celebrate Epiphany tomorrow and continue that seasonal focus in the Sundays that follow. During this time we center on the many ways that Jesus Christ reveals God to us, affirming Jesus as the vehicle through which God has come to humankind, Jews and Gentiles alike. May we pray and remain expectant in order to see God’s at work in our lives.

O God, renew our prayer life with expectations that you are at work for good. Amen.

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