Daily Worship

Against Words

James Cathcart January 14, 2023 0 4
Image credit: Unsplash

Romans 8: 22-27 (NRSVA)

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; 23 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. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 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. 27 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.


This week we have been thinking especially about the voice, and as a consequence I’ve focused on words quite a lot. But of course we can communicate vocally without communicating verbally. Yelling, crying, weeping, groaning, whistling, chortling, breathing — there is a rolling broadcast of our lives that we share with one another and with our maker that goes beyond words.

Indeed the sounds we make without speaking can sometimes say more than our speech. Laughter breaking the tension. A shout showing our delight. A grunt our despair. A slow breath out becoming a huge gesture of reconciliation.

And through all our sighing, sobbing and singing the Holy Spirit is there with us beat for beat. We are not alone. We are not unheard. Even when we don’t know where to begin, the Spirit is already there.

Words are wonderful and life changing. But sometimes we can turn our back on words for a while and instead lean on the embrace of God and sigh wordlessly. Leaning against the words we know but not feeling the need to say any in this moment.




Dear God,

Sometimes I’m lost for words.