But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:25-26)
Not knowing what to pray for. The spiritual manual known as The Cloud of Unknowing counsels keeping it simple… even one word like HELP.
I’ve been awake in the wee hours trying to pray through what’s bugging me. Not going to bleed TMI all over you – it’s enough to give you that bit of background.
Do I pray for mercy? Is the problem of my own making? Is it the wrath of God? Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner might be the best I can do.
But is the problem a kind of gift, to make me more reliant on God’s grace? Or is it to create a transforming pressure by which God is making me more Christlike? Should I be saying thank you and asking God to make the changes (Faster, please, if that’s what’s up)?
Or am I just on the bad end of evil/crazy stuff because the fallen world is full of evil and crazy? Do I need to be asking for strength to resist or endurance to bear suffering?
These are all possibilities. I dunno which one will move me into conformity with what God is trying to accomplish (if anything).
Paul’s Letter to the Romans sets this state of not knowing in two contexts:
- Patient waiting, exercising the virtue of hope. Assuming a good future laid out by a good God. Not easy, especially when the here and now shakes us awake in the wee hours.
- The help of the Holy Spirit, of which we won’t always be cognizant. But the help is there – the life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit transforming our mortal lives toward immortality in the likeness of Christ.
Go in peace and pray for me, sinner. Cuz I dunno what to ask beyond that.
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