I don’t know about you, but I often chuckle when I think about how naive I was at the beginning of “all this.” Back at the beginning of March, I believed that the world would be back to “normal” by the end of April—tops. Oh, sweetie, how wrong you were.
It’s now the middle of summer, and New York City, where I live, is still largely out of commission. From the coronavirus to the protesting and riots, and now back to the coronavirus – we’ve reached a new level of dire. The state of the world right now – politically, socially, economically, health-wise – things are severe. Things are extreme. Things are — *cue the eye roll* — unprecedented.
And I’m going to be honest with you —sitting here as a Christian, with the world crumbling around us, it’s often hard to know how to respond.
The country feels like a tinderbox, with people so impassioned, and fiercely opinionated. Especially on social media, neighbors can seem more like hostile forces to be reckoned with, than your fence-sharing teammate that waters your plants while you’re on vacation. But there’s just so much hurting out there right now, and so many opinions and biased information and reporting, that even just getting the straight story is a task unto itself.
So much so, that, frankly, it makes praying seem like an insurmountable task. Maybe you can relate. But there’s just so many things that need God’s healing, and help, and protection and love, and peace – that I don’t even know where to begin! It’s like trying to wrap my arms around a hippopotamus coated in motor oil, wiggling around, doing the Macarena.
There’s so much that needs prayer, where do I start? Is it selfish to pray for personal things, when the world is falling apart around me? What if I forget about XYZ? Will God think my intercessions are too trivial when there’s the coronavirus, civil unrest, unemployed loved ones, and leaders that need our prayer?
Honestly, this approach-avoidance has hurt my prayer life. Maybe it’s my “all-or-nothing” mindset, but I find that unless my prayer is going to address all the world’s problems, my loved ones’ problems, and my own personal problems, it’s a failure of divine proportions. That’s where the second reading comes in to save the day.
“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” ~Romans 8:26-27
What a comfort to know that I don’t have to know where to begin; I don’t have to know how to pray. When I’m overwhelmed by the breadth and gravity of the issues at hand that need prayer, the Spirit “reads” my heart and intercedes for me. I mean, if that doesn’t just completely take the weight of the world off your shoulders, I don’t know what will.
Reflecting on this, I think it’s an important perspective to remember that God doesn’t expect perfection from our prayer life. So we can just let that go right off the bat. God doesn’t want polished or pristine. He doesn’t want picture-perfect prose and punctuation and platitudes. He simply wants our hearts.
The raw, authentic heart that sure might not know where to start when interceding for this crumbling world, its hurting people, and lost unity and morality. The important thing is to begin. Take that first baby step; even in just preparing to pray, the Holy Spirit will come in and pray with us and for us.
There is power in prayer. And there is nothing the world needs more right now than a praying people. Prayers for peace. Prayers for health and safety. Prayers for equality and justice. Prayers for the lonely and broken-hearted. Prayers for the oppressed and persecuted. Prayers for love to drive out hate.
Holy Spirit, come and fill in the gaps for all the things I’ve missed or overlooked. Thank you for being my Intercessor when I’ve lost my prayer voice.
About the author:
Caralyn is the writer and speaker behind the blog, BeautyBeyondBones. She’s an actress and writer in New York City. Having battled a severe case of anorexia and Ulcerative Colitis, she now uses her story of total restoration to offer Christ’s hope and encouragement for those with eating disorders, and other forms of adversity. Her book, Bloom is now available!