You’re reading the paper or watching TV. You see or read something terrible that lands with an impact. You give a deep sigh; you groan or grieve inside yourself. Paul tells us that when we groan like that, we may actually be participating in the Spirit’s groaning over sin and evil in the world, for the Spirit prays for us in “sighs too deep for words.” Or perhaps you’re dealing with a really frustrating situation, and you go to bed discouraged but having turned over your situation to God. The next morning you feel renewed resilience, maybe even a new idea. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness,” declares Paul.
Prayer begins in the heart of God, not with us. When we truly pray, the wings of our prayers catch the wind of the Spirit’s flow, filled with God’s desires for the world. We join Christ’s constant intercession for humanity.
Paul speaks frankly about the fact that we don’t really know how to pray “as we ought.” So why pray? Regular prayer, even in our ignorance, can open us to those deeper sighs and yearnings that get buried in our daily busyness.
Prayer serves to put us in the flow of the Spirit, not to find satisfaction for our superficial desires. Prayer is time with God, openness to God, a time for relationship, a regular connection. Spirit-life flows from that relationship.
As we bring our gratitude, thanksgiving, honest confession of our needs, and frank assessment of both our mistakes and our successes into the flow, the Spirit can begin to shape our desires for ourselves and the world. God can awaken and stir up yearnings for goodness and justice, humility and courage, patience and self-control, kindness and compassion, which are the many faces of love and the many faces of Christ.
Help my prayers catch the wind of your Spirit, O God. Amen.
Jacob has tricked his brother out of his birthright and has tricked his blind father into blessing him instead of his older brother. This week the trickster is tricked, and his desire to marry Rachel will cost him dearly. The psalmist reflects on the faithfulness of God. God has made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the author is confident that God will honor that covenant. Paul builds upon his argument to the Romans about the power of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us pray to connect with God, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus continues to teach about the kingdom of God using parables. Finding our way into the kingdom is worth far more than anything else.
Read Genesis 29:15-28. How does a wise faith help you discern between differing loves?
Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How is your faith journey an extension of God’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Read Romans 8:26-39. How have you experienced prayer as an opening of yourself to God’s Spirit rather than a petition for yourself or others?
Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How are you growing in Christ? If your faith has become stagnant, what “sorting” might help you to continue to grow toward proficiency in being Christlike?
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