In the Second Reading we have just heard from the Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul writes: “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” We all know that prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. Yet the reality is we often fail to know how to pray, and perhaps on occasions even fail to pray, or at least fail to pray as we ought.
Let’s deal briefly with each of these: first, our weakness and failure in prayer. Saint Augustine writes that “God created us without us: but he did not will to save us without us.” In other words whilst we do nothing to add to our salvation, we must cooperate with God in the saving work he carries out on our behalf. If we are struggling in the spiritual life, finding ourselves wandering or wallowing in sin, prayer should be our refuge. It is tempting to think that when we are far from the Lord, somehow we should remain at a distance. Yet it is precisely in our hour of need that the Lord wants us to cry out to him, in order that he can do what he wants more than anything: reach out and save us.
Secondly, our inability to know what to say when we pray. Here we go back again to Saint Paul: “The Spirit himself,” he writes, “intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” Our limits in prayer, especially in knowing what to say, are made up for by the Holy Spirit who already knows the secrets of our hearts, and pours out these longings on our behalf. In a particular way, too, it is the Holy Spirit who guides our prayer in the liturgy of the Church, which inspired by the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church articulates in a most perfect way the cries, petitions, love, and thanksgivings of every human heart.
So may God in his great goodness, then, hear our prayers, and may we each continue to grow in faithfulness and the knowledge of his sublime love.