Some moments in life leave us speechless. Sometimes wonder, or gratitude, or disbelief, or grief seem to steal our words.
Sometimes I want to pray, but there are no words. Other times the words come, but I know they are not enough.
There are times when I am awe-struck by the beauty of creation or the gift of another day. There are moments when I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the family, and the life, I have. There are times I shake my head in disbelief over how people treat each other, or how I have treated another. And there are sob-filled moments when I am overcome with the pain of old losses and fear for losses yet to come.
I recently started serving as a pastor in Gadsden County (Florida). I love the church I’m serving, and I’m humbled that I have the opportunity to serve. I also worry for my new community. Gadsden County is a troubled county. There are 67 counties in Florida. Gadsden County has a higher poverty rate than 62 of those counties and is unhealthier than 60 of them. Across all subjects tested (Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics), the Gadsden County School District consistently scores in the bottom five. In 2017, only two school districts in Florida had lower scores in Language Arts and Science.
But it’s not just this one county, is it? My friends on both sides of the political spectrum seem to agree the country is going downhill fast.
This kind of decline can leave us speechless, can’t it?
And yet, I am like the prophet Zechariah, a “prisoner of Hope” (Zechariah 9:12). I know God is love and this gives me hope beyond hope (1 John 4:8). How then do I pray if I can’t find the words?
As much as I want to use my words to communicate with God, being speechless might be the better way. In Romans 8, Paul says, “the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”
Hard moments —and hard seasons—produce the best prayers.
Why? Because we get out of the way and the Holy Spirit picks up where we leave off, praying with sighs too deep for words.
What is a sigh, anyway? A deep exhale. Except when the Holy Spirit does it, it’s the deep exhale of the breath of God, the force that creates and renews. (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 33:6; Ezekiel 37; John 20:22)
Paul says that when we are speechless, the creative, renewing breath of God sighs in us, through us, and for us.
What could be better than that?
What has left you speechless recently? Maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s personal, or maybe it’s both? Are you a prisoner of hope? Does it bring you comfort to know that the Holy Spirit is praying for you even when you can’t find the words? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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