In the NT reading for today, St Paul wrote to encourage the Christian community in Rome:
…the Spirit 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. Romans 8.26
How often have we gone to pray and found that worries have intruded and seemed to get between us and speaking and listening to God – ‘Am I doing this right?’; ‘Surely other people are doing a better job of this than me!’; ‘What difference can my little prayers possibly make?’ Paul’s acknowledgement is that many people have found this hard.
It is encouraging to know that Christian writers with deep faith wrestled with ‘how to pray’. C.S.Lewis wrote: ‘I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”
And Mother Teresa said: “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
Carla Gasser suggests bringing our difficulties and worries about prayer back into our relationship with God – telling them to God. She suggests we can think about these words when it seems hard to pray:
Prepare, Release, Accept, Yield – P-R-A-Y.
They can be used like this:
– Lord, help me PREPARE to talk to you by setting aside time for quiet and solitude.
– God, allow me to RELEASE worry, fear, and shame and come to you with a humble, open heart.
– Lord, I come to you in faith believing that you hear and ACCEPT those who seek you.
– Dear God, I YIELD to the Holy Spirit and trust that he will intercede for me when I pray. [www.carlagasser.com]
Ultimately Paul offers the Romans – and us – a resounding encouragement, that nothing, not even our own doubts, worries, fears and insecurities can separate us from God:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.38-9