Read Romans 8:22-27

The Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.—Romans 8:26 (NIV)

Just as the world was shutting down due to COVID-19, I learned that I had aggressive prostate cancer that required immediate surgery. Fear overwhelmed me. I wondered if I could even receive treatment in the midst of a pandemic. The prayers of friends lifted me, yet my own praying was, in the words of Franciscan Richard Rohr, both “constant and impossible.”

In late afternoon during my days of waiting, I walked by the river and along tree-lined streets near my home. I babbled my prayers but soon ran out of words. Finally, I prayed, “Father, I have no more words. Please let my steps be prayers and my breath be praise.”

I remembered how Paul wrote that the Spirit prays with us and for us when we can manage only groans and sighs. My anxiety did not disappear; but I began to see beyond it as I walked and breathed. My mind became calm as it no longer grasped for words. I began to see and hear the birds along the river. I noticed the sunlight through the trees. I saw other people walking—no doubt bearing burdens of their own.

Eventually I had successful surgery, and I give thanks for caring doctors, nurses, and other dedicated healthcare workers. Most of all I give thanks for God’s Spirit that sustains. And I continue to pray—sometimes without words.

Prayer: O God, you know our needs before we ask. Hear us when we pray with words and without them. Amen.

Thought for the day: I don’t always need words to pray.

—Kevin Horne, Louisiana