by Pastor Mark Jordan

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. (Romans 8:26, NLT)

Yesterday I shared a facepalm moment when it came to an encounter with Mia, and how it reminded me something about prayer. I do want to follow-up on that today, because there are times when we are so down that we can’t even muster the words to pray.

Our passage for today tells us that there are times we don’t even know for what to pray. Have you been there? Have you been so grieved, anxious, angry, lost, etc that you couldn’t even muster the words to pray? I have. When my dad got his terminal cancer diagnosis. When Tiffany lost a baby in her 2nd trimester. When I was so tired and overwhelmed after Mia almost died after a seizure. When friends leave, and I feel all alone…everywhere. There just weren’t any words. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Even though those times felt and feel so desperate, I hold on to the promise in today’s passage.

If God knows you, your needs, your desires, your hope, promise, your pain, all of it, He knows there are times when you can barely even grunt, groan, or gesture for help. That’s one of the most beautiful and comforting roles of the Holy Spirit — who Jesus Himself referred to as the Great Comforter (John 14:26) — as God interprets those grunts, groans, and gestures as a prayer language for Father.

This reminds me of a time with Ethan quite a few years ago. He earned a bad grade on a school assignment for the first time, and he was devastated. I told him that one low grade won’t ruin him, and this one moment in time was something to help him learn about how to prepare differently in the future. I said those things, but that wasn’t what he needed. I picked him up, put him in my lap, held him, and rocked him. He didn’t need a lecture. He didn’t need a lesson. He just needed to be held, loved, comforted. He needed to be ok to not be ok, let those tears flow, and know that those sobs matter to daddy. Even though I had a long-range view knowing one failing grades do not equate failure, what he needed to know most was his value as a person. And that value isn’t quantifiable like a grade on a test. Ever.

You know what? Neither of us remember what that assignment was. What we remember is the moment where he needed comfort, and his daddy was there to hold him. God has a long-range view of your life. If you are in a time of defeat and despair, unable to frame the words to pray, know that God is close to you in that moment, too. The Holy Spirit is living within you, and translating your guttural groans as a prayer language to Father. Let God use the Holy Spirit to comfort you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for hearing my prayers, even when I can’t find the words. Thank you for the comfort of your Holy Spirit, and your arms to embrace me when I need it most. I pray this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.