Not too long ago, I began to notice a persistent prayer in my mind. It would come when I was very tired but having trouble sleeping. I would search my mind for a way to complete the prayer, and some people and things would come to mind, so I worked my way through them, but there I lay, still awake, and the prayer still pulsing through like an infinity mirror. The prayer is "Lord, if only there was a way ..."
I think sometimes I fall asleep with the prayer still echoing in my mind.
When I tried to think of why I could not complete the prayer, I was struck by a thought from Paul: "... the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans" (Romans 8:26 TNIV). The missing, dominant clause of my prayer reaches toward heaven, and the deep, inexpressible, unknowable longing of my heart is translated and expressed by the One who knows me better than I know myself. I am reminded of the longing that C.S. Lewis says we search for all our lives, a longing for a longing as it were. We are stricken with a sense that there is something that we need, but don't even know what it is, and would just like to give it a name, so we could know what to look for, but it eludes us.
So, no matter how I try to complete the sentence, whether in selfless thoughts of others or troubled, dark disturbance, I know that what I really want is something I cannot even imagine. God knows. Lord, if only there was a way ...
Pastor, Norma Mennonite Church.