From Soul of Christ
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. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:22-28).
Theme for Holy Hour:
Praying in our weakness
Suggested opening hymn: “Nearer Than Before,” by Jim Cowan.
Begin your hour of adoration by placing before Jesus your deep desires.
Adoring Jesus In His Word
When we are groaning or waiting for answers, we experience the not yet paradox of the Christian life. In faith we believe that we have been saved, but we do “not yet” experience the fullness of redemption while we live on Earth. We still suffer, experience temptations, and struggle to consistently act lovingly and justly in a world marred with selfishness and injustice.
Pause of reflection.
Chapter eight of Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans invites us to pray with our deep desires – desires that are too profound to put into words – in the heart of the Trinity. This passage also offers some guidance for when we face obstacles or dryness in our prayer.
We can completely trust in the God who loves us. The times when our prayers seem unanswered, our souls feel dry, and our hearts are desperate are the most fruitful moments to renew our trust.
Share our desires with our loving Father
When we feel our prayers are going unanswered, we can share our hopes and disappointments with God. Holding back what we really think or feel is never good for a relationship. Sharing our deepest desires – our moments of hope, pain, and joy – leads to a special intimacy. God knows our desires already – Saint Paul reminds us that God knows us better than we know ourselves. But daring to entrust our deepest desires to God in prayer is a fruitful practice.
- We get to know ourselves better, acknowledging how important this desire is to us.
- We grow in trust in God, to whom we entrust the desire.
- In giving our desire to God, the desire itself is often changed. Perhaps for the first time, our desire is placed in its true context – the context of God’s loving plan for us. It loses its absolute value and becomes as important as it is meant to be.
- We acknowledge our dependence on our loving Creator and have the opportunity to turn with real hope to the all-powerful One who loves us.
Blessed James Alberione offers this wise advice: “Tell Jesus everything; if you have some troubles, if your heart is full of hope, full of the desire to be united with him. Confide even those worries that you dare not say to anyone. Tell him even if your shoe hurts. Tell Jesus everything, with the simplicity of a child.”
As your act of faith, share openly with the Lord all your hopes, troubles, and fears, expressing your trust in his care for you, perhaps in the words of this prayer. When you have poured out your heart, pray the Our Father.
Act of Trust
Jesus, you are my Savior and center of my life; I trust completely in your saving love at work in my life right now and for all eternity; I love you who are love with my whole being! I adore you as my Lord who humbled himself to undertake the salvation of the world for love of me and for love of every human person.
Imitate Jesus in his trust in the Father
One of the more puzzling parables is that of the wicked judge who is hounded by the widow to rule in her favor, (see Luke 18:1-8). This parable – along with other sayings of Jesus – highlights the importance that Jesus gives to perseverance in prayer. Jesus, who knows human nature by personal experience, reveals how important perseverance is in the spiritual life, in prayer, in our relationships. But perseverance is hard for us who live in a culture where instant gratification seems almost a necessity. The neglected virtues of patience, perseverance, commitment, and endurance are all related to growing in trust. To truly grow in trust, we must be unable to see and understand the workings of God.
Following Jesus Way
Jesus gives us a very personal example of perseverance in prayer. The night before he died in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed three times to his Father that he would not have to undergo his passion. And three times he resolved his heartbroken plea by surrendering to the Father, “Your will be done,” (Matthew 26:42).
You may wish to read Matthew 26:36-46 and pray with Christ’s words to the Father.
As human beings, we grow through trial and error, through practice and perseverance. We are called to pray regularly, frequently, and not just when we want something. Blessed James Alberione encourages us to pray with an understanding of our desires but also with trust:
Prayer is necessary in the plan of Divine Providence, since without special divine help we cannot practice certain virtues, fulfill certain duties, overcome certain passions, and persevere for a long time in doing good. Only to one who prays is such help given. Prayer will obtain either what it asks for or something even better.
Using these questions, reflect on your part in your relationship with Jesus, on your prayer time, and how you pray throughout each day.
- What are the patterns of my prayer?
- How do I regularly express my deep desires to Jesus?
- How do I want to grow in my trust of my loving Lord?
We can use the very blindness of our faith and our inability to hear God’s response to our prayer to grow in trust, clinging to the promise of his love. “Now hope that is seen is not hope,” (Romans 8:24). Only in Heaven will we understand the mysterious ways that God works in our lives and in the world. But we can begin to trust God more fully today.
Renew your trust and spirit of prayer by praying Psalms 62 and 131, psalms that Jesus must have prayed during his Earthly life.
Pray in the Spirit
When God is silent, our prayer not only seems fruitless and dry, but painful. We become raw, or supersensitive to the doubts that silence engenders. But this is not a time to give space to doubts that question God’s goodness or our own lovability. We might find it helpful to voice our doubts or write them down, and then dismiss them by tearing them up. If a doubt is persistent or particularly difficult to confront we can look for a scripture passage that contradicts that doubt, and then spend some time with that particular passage, allowing the word of God to sink deeply into our minds and hearts.
In Union With Jesus
We may experience sufferings that are beyond words, which we cannot express or articulate. This is a time to simply breathe in God’s presence. It can be very powerful to simply sit still in a Eucharistic chapel and allow the warmth of Jesus’s presence to comfort us. It is not easy to live these words from Romans 8 – to offer the sighs of our spirit to the Holy Spirit, believing that he breathes in us, works in us, and wraps us in the Father’s embrace – when we cannot feel him with us. What we can do is cling to the conviction that, whether we feel comforted or not, “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28).
If you would like, try this during your adoration. Write down a doubt you have, then find a scripture passage that dispels it.
Pray slowly with this one passage.
Deepen your adoration and trust of the Most Holy Trinity by praying the “Veni Creator Spiritus” in one of its versions. (This prayer is the basis for the words of the hymn, “Come, Holy Ghost.”) Or pray your own Litany to the Holy Spirit, spontaneously using names that come to mind such as Spirit of Truth, enlighten me; Spirit of Mercy, gentle my heart, etc.
These “holy groanings” of our spirit, offered in Jesus’s Spirit to the Father, may be a prayer that transforms the world.
You can conclude your adoration with a hymn such as “Envía Tu Espíritu” (“Send Out Your Spirit”), composed by Bob Hurd (based on Psalm 104 and the Sequence of Pentecost).