We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 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 sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27
This is one of my favorite scriptures! I just love the symbolism of it. When I hear “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now” I think of Mother Earth, giving birth to life. And we ourselves groan inwardly while we wait for adoption.
This painting by English artist Amanda Clark captures this imagery well. Mother Earth as Creation. The birds in the background could be the Spirit, helping us in our own weakness, interceding with sighs too deep for words.
When I was younger, I never understood prayer. I only knew of prayer as making requests of God. God, let my team win. God, please make tomorrow go well. God, cure my friend of her illness. God, if you could see to it to give me one million dollars….
I don’t pray like that. I’m not really much of a talker. I prefer to listen.
So when I learned about contemplative forms of prayer, this resonated with me. St Teresa of Avila called this the “prayer of quiet” and it is one in which we sit in the presence of the Divine, open and attentive. We allow the Spirit to fill us with “sighs too deep for words.”
On this Pentecost Day, perhaps we could all (even the talkers among us) benefit from taking a moment and connecting with the Spirit. Spend some time sitting in that beautiful Creation, groaning in labor pains. Feel it. Sigh on Her behalf.
A prayer that is deeper than words.
(Also if you love Amanda Clark’s painting you can purchase a print of it on her Etsy shop, Earth Angels Art.)