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 sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26. NRSV).
It is very easy to think that when we pray it is all up to us. We may sit down with the intention to pray, and then not know what we are to say, think or ask for. The reason this happens is that we forget that the desire to pray is in and of itself an act of God’s initiative. We are just responding to God with the desire God gave us. That desire is there to draw us into a deeper relationship with God from our heart. Remember, when we use the word “heart” in Christian spirituality we are talking about the whole of ourselves.
The best news we can receive today is that the work of prayer is done by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the very essence of God that seeks union with our own essence. We cannot know how to do this of our own accord. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us as God’s grace flows into our souls bringing healing and reconciliation. Such an experience allows us to center ourselves on God’s view of us and let go of what draws us away from this deepening awareness of God all around us. We are so important to God, that God lives in a loving and life-giving relationship with all of us in the deep sighs of the Holy Spirit. We are never alone or without help.
This can easily be summed up in the words taken from The Rule of St. Benedict chapter 20 “Reverence in Prayer.”
Whenever we ask some favor of a powerful man, we do it humbly and respectfully, for fear of presumption. How much more important, then, to lay our petitions before the Lord God of all things with the utmost humility and sincere devotion. We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words. (RB 1980, p.48)
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB