Part 5: Groans Too Deep For Words

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Christianity knows that prayer is something we do. It is our link with God, the act we are supposed to do at all times, without ceasing [1]. When Jesus walked the earth, He talked about prayer often [2] during His ministry, and the faith that bears His name is very big on it.

It is one of the fundamental practises we as Christians are meant to do. We are meant to have a relationship with our Father God, and relationships are built on talking with one another.

I don’t know about you, but there are countless times when I should have prayed, could have prayed, needed to pray…but I didn’t. Too often, when life just crumbles around me, I just turn on God. There have been weeks sometimes where God and I weren’t on speaking terms because I was just too angry/weary/hurting/sinful/pathetic-excuse-no.5/pathetic-excuse-no.6 to talk with Him. But God, ever the loving Father, just lets me stew in my own puffed up pious nonsensery until I realise what an idiot I am being.
He lets me realise my own mistakes, most of the time.

But there are also many times when I want to pray to Him, where I actively seek Him out, but life has just drained me of words. Right now is a good example; I want to pray to Him, to talk with Him, to wait on Him. But the only words on my lips are, “Father, it hurts so badly. Why am I suffering this again? Why couldn’t my back have held out just a few years more? Why did it ever have to give way again? Why?”

Even writing that has left me in tears, because that is the genuinely painful truth of my situation; my pain has started to define me to such a point that even my relationship with God is being dominated by it.

Since there is a good chance you who are reading this do not know me, I was in a couple of incidents years back (one involving a rugby tackle and a concrete floor, the other involving a loose paving slab…and a concrete floor), resulting in a disc above my lower 5th vertebrae slipping so badly that I was crippled and unable to walk.
I celebrated my 17th birthday during that time. The painkillers they had me on just so that I could even bear, letalone live with, the pain robbed me of any memories of that birthday.
Eventually, the doctors removed half of the disc, warning me that – someday – the other half will slip. I thought they were talking decades, if ever.
That was 6 years ago, and I am back on strong painkillers and crutches. I can still walk for the time being, but I know that that too will sometime soon be beyond my grasp. Thankfully, this time round my memory is holding up a little bit better, but I am now missing the rough equivalent of a good 3 or 4 days out of the last two weeks. All of which has been spent in varying degrees of pain and discomfort.

I hurt. So badly.

But God knows I hurt; God knows that we all hurt in some way or another often during our hard and fractious lives here on earth.
And God is already looking out for us, even if we don’t know it.

Paul wrote this passage in Romans 8 to a church evidently beginning to face sufferings and trials because of their faith. But the words, the truths they proclaim, are just so beautiful they deserve to be read and reread a dozen times over;

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. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

Entire books, sermon series’, seminars and lectures could be written, given, and spoken on the sheer content that is packed into this relatively short passage, and it feels almost like a travesty to merely go over a few things in this article, but there are two things that strike me as essential to look at in this passage.

The first is that God prays for us.
When we have no words to say, when we do not even know what we want or need to pray about, the Holy Spirit is praying on our behalf, searching out what lays heavy on our hearts, minds and souls and articulates that into prayers on our behalf. God hears our weary sighs, sighs too deep for words to fill them, and makes it into a prayer on our behalf.
We must remember that: God prays with us whenever we pray, and He prays on our behalf whenever we cannot find the words.

The second, and most surprising, thing that struck me about this passage is that prayer is distinctly trinitarian.

Since I cannot presume everyone who reads this will know what is meant by trinitarian, here is a link to a fantastic explanation of the Trinity.

Anyways, back to the point I was making; at first, the view seems a little strange to make. Whilst the Holy Spirit is mentioned, and the Father also (often in the New Testament, the Father is just called God), Jesus seems notable by His absence. However, elsewhere in the Bible, Jesus is described as our Great High Priest, who intercedes for us with the Father [3]. Thus, with this in mind, we suddenly see the Trinity at work whenever we pray; God the Holy Spirit prays with us on our behalf, which God the Son brings before the Father and intercedes on our behalf, and God the Father listens and acts upon our prayers.

Friends, our God is amazing; not only does He care for us, look out for us, and hear us when we cry out, He is praying with us, and for us, whenever we turn to Him. Our God is faithful, even when we have no more words to say. So today, even though my prayers shall almost certainly be sighs of pained weariness, God will be praying on my behalf, as He always has been, and as He always will. Tonight, tomorrow and every day of our lives, whenever we pray, God the Holy Spirit will be there, praying with us and for us too; we are never abandoned, forgotten, or passed over by God.

And that is an awesome, incredible, praiseworthy, wonderful truth to remember, in the good times, and the bad.

[1] – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
[2] – Matthew 6:5-15, 7:7-10, 10:19-20, 18:18-20, 26:36-44, Mark 1:35, 9:29, Luke 6:12, 11:1-13, 22:39-46, John 16:23-24 and 16:26-27 to mention a few
[3] – Hebrews 4:14-5:10

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About trevfrancis

It always seems an odd position to be in; how do you distill yourself into a mere box? The short is, you can't, but I will give it a good go all the same; 23 years I've been on this earth, and 9 of them as a Christian. Books and learning are a passion of mine, as is spending time in good company. The pub is my preferred place for study, and all the wonderful insights I find there from people who I see eye to eye with, even if we agree on precious little. True friends are synonymous with family to me, and I love my family very much. Love walking to clear my head, will walk for miles upon miles if I could. At the end of the day, the best I can think of to sum me up is a pilgrim, far from home, seeking to understand the world he's passing through, and the God behind it all.
This entry was posted in Church, God, History, Jesus, Jesus' Ministry and Teachings, Life, Love and loss, Other, Sacrifice, The Bible, When All is Not Bright and Beautiful: Suffering, Christians and the Bible and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Part 5: Groans Too Deep For Words

  1. Pingback: Part 1: Intro « Onwards Weary Christian

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