“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26
Last Friday night, the Eden Bow team was out on the Lincoln estate like every other Friday night, engaging with young people and being a friendly and caring presence in the community. However, last Friday was a bit different. The local youth centre was closed and lots of young people were out on the streets, so the team was very busy. Lots of great conversations were had, some of the young people got involved with the activities the team put on – an Xbox on the side of a van and a recording studio inside the van. But some of the young people didn’t want to engage. One group of young people in particular were abusive at the team’s attempts to talk to them and one group of girls who the team have come to know and love were in a bad way after some heavy drinking.
In the preceding weeks at Sunday services and prayer meetings we had been thinking about praying “Your Kingdom Come”. We have been reflecting on how the world is and how we want it to be. We are all aware that there is a great deal of pain in our area. Sin and evil are at work in people’s lives with tragic consequences: broken families and relationships, fatal lacking of self-worth, poverty, insecurity, crime, disillusionment. When we step out to engage with our community and young people on Friday nights and throughout the week, we come face to face with this evil and with the tragedy of sin and brokenness. When we step into these situations with the light of Christ inside us, it’s beyond heart breaking. And it should be.
When we come as we are before God and put our lives in His hands, the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us. By the Spirit, the life of Jesus becomes increasingly real in our hearts so that we feel how He feels; we see things as He sees them. When the Holy Spirit sees the pain of the world He is moved to pray “with groans words cannot express”. When Jesus saw the pain of the world, He wept and still does. The Son and the Spirit invite us to “intercede” with them. To take the light of God and stand in the dark place, to stand between the Father and all those we know and meet who are trapped in sin, brokenness and pain. To stand in this gap can be agonising. To be filled with the love of God and to then watch as the rest of creation tears itself apart is perhaps the greatest pain the universe can fathom after the pain experienced by a Father watching His Son bleed to death on a cross.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” The Queen after 9/11.
We must first ask God for love by His Holy Spirit and then stay close to God so that we are constantly filled with that love. But be assured, if we love those who are still in the world, it will hurt. But it is this hurt that proves our love and gives our prayers their authority as we follow the way of Christ. Words will not do for these prayers, but then again, prayers so sacred deserve more than humanity is capable of; and so when we have lost all words, God will speak and it is through His creative and redeeming voice that the Kingdom will come.