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Prayer out of wordless sighs

- Teachers Talk

One morning I was having a tough time getting my peace, finding a prayerful window of stillness—that feeling of oneness with God that stills and lightens and illumines every thought for the day. I was in a swamp of nowhere thoughts—so I threw out a line for anchor, prepared to seek till I found, opened the Bible at random, and read some verses I wasn’t familiar with. Here’s what I found:

“The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26–28, Eugene Peterson, The Message).

This passage just took my breath away. To think …

we are prayer
being prayed
right out of wordless sighs
wordless cries
we are some song in singing
being sung
supernal offering
Spirit etched
Soul fired
presence ever
of heaven
O who
would have thought
every detail of our lives
being worked into something good

Then as if out of nowhere, this hymn began to run through my thoughts. It’s not one I know well, and it crept up on me in a quiet kind of a way:

Sometimes a light surprises
    The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
    With healing in his wings.
When comfort seems declining,
    There comes to us again
A season of clear shining,
    To cheer us after rain.
(William Cowper, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 313, adap. © CSBD)

And so today, every day, I am endeavoring to live more gently. To feel the pulse pulsing me, prayer praying me, light surprising … life ever lightening … heaven springing everywhere out of earth. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “To preserve a long course of years still and uniform, amid the uniform darkness of storm and cloud and tempest, requires strength from above,—deep draughts from the fount of divine Love. Truly may it be said: There is an old age of the heart, and a youth that never grows old; a Love that is a boy, and a Psyche who is ever a girl. The fleeting freshness of youth, however, is not the evergreen of Soul; the coloring glory of perpetual bloom; the spiritual glow and grandeur of a consecrated life wherein dwelleth peace, sacred and sincere in trial or in triumph” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. ix–x).

And in the words of a gospel hymn by Ken Whitely: “Let my life be prayer.”

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