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 groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26 (NRSVUE)
Covid finally caught me for the first time, more than three years into the pandemic. I thought I was vaxxed and ready for whatever she’d dish out, but within hours of tumbling into her thorny embrace I found myself in the ER late at night, weeping on a gurney.
Breathing was a struggle. My fever topped 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Muscles I never knew I had were screaming in pain. My brain was a cackling villain, telling me terrible and untrue things. Nurses kept coming in, calling me the wrong name, and retreating without offering care or even the basic Paxlovid prescription I had come in requesting.
I stood outside my own body and chided myself, “Why don’t you pray? Aren’t you the one always saying that prayer changes things?”
But I couldn’t pray. All I could muster was a moan. A series of sighs. And the aforementioned weeping.
It occurred to me: maybe all these sounds coming from my body are prayer. The only prayers I can pray. The Spirit knows how to be my sigh-translator to God’s switchboard. Even if all the Spirit is doing is sighing even more loudly.
Whatever you are going through today or any day: pray as you can, not as you can’t. Spirit is standing by.
Moan. Sigh. Cry. Amen.
Rev. Molly Baskette is the lead pastor of First Church Berkeley UCC and the author of books about church renewal, parenting, spiritual growth and more. Sign up for her author newsletter or get information about her newest book at mollybaskette.com.