Some days even the most silver-tongued find it difficult to pray. Stupefying days, like 9/11, when life’s harshness has slapped the words of prayer out of our mouths. Prayerless days because we are in a lightless season. Days when even the usual flood of insipid prayer “suggestions” to God is dammed up and replaced by mute silence because we have come to realize we do not know how to pray—not about this.
Surely Paul knew those days intimately. Romans 8:22 notes a world (both creation and creature) groaning in anticipation of complete redemption. Throughout Acts, we read that Paul himself had a reason to groan. Though he overcame his past, others never did. He was held in suspicion by Jewish Christians and often beaten or persecuted by those whose cause he once championed. Ironically, both Paul and those who persecuted him believed theirs was a faithful response to God. Paul understands what it is like not to know quite how to pray. But he quickly reminds us that the Spirit will pray alongside us. “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”
We mirror the groaning of Paul’s time: groaning polluted waters, groaning endangered species, groaning polluted and endangered peoples. We live in a polarized world that needs Pentecost. Nations are fragmented and distant from one another, and even the church is engaged in varying forms of civil war! How can we possibly discern the need or how to pray? But we are not alone; the Spirit of God is praying with us.

Spirit of God, pray with us in our weakness. We are confused and cannot find our way. Lead us to Pentecost again. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Acts of the Apostles 2:1-21

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Lectionary Week
May 14–20, 2018
Scripture Overview

This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private without moving to take action in the public square? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
• Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
• Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
• Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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