As a young minister, visiting someone in the hospital was always a stressful time for me. I felt the weight of the person’s situation and wanted to ease their anxiety and their pain. I wanted them to know the comfort and the peace of God’s presence, especially in that moment of need. But, often, I didn’t know what to say. Every- thing that came to mind felt trite. Nothing seemed like it would be comforting or helpful.
The silent ride up to the patient’s floor in the hospital elevator
always felt like a pregame pep talk for me as I closed my eyes and
imagined what situation I would encounter. Inevitably, though, by
the time the elevator doors opened, the advice of a wise colleague
would come to mind, that it is not our words, but our presence that
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (v. 26).
Sometimes Paul makes me feel better about myself. Apparently,
none of us are very good at knowing what to say, what to pray.
Perhaps we get so fixated on the perceived power of our own words,
so focused on our desire and expectation to be able to fix things or
to make them better, that we forget God is already present, that God
just might have something to say if we make enough room to listen
and to trust.
Sit silently in a posture of prayer before God. Do not offer any words. Give room for the Spirit to pray on your behalf. Perhaps you will discover what you didn’t know you truly needed.
Holy God, how grateful we are that, by the grace of your Spirit, you hear us, even when we don’t know what to say. Amen.