Bishop Hughes reminds us that we can pray for God to do the impossible – even if we don't feel worthy or don't have the words – whether that is in our family, in our church, across the street, across the state, or across the world in Ukraine. (Time: 4:01.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark and I want to talk with you about praying for miracles. It is the season of Lent and I very often during this season talk with people about prayer – they have questions for me about a way to change their prayer practice or start a special prayer practice during Lent. It's not unusual during this season to want to experiment, to see if one can go deeper in their prayers, that one can learn more about what God is wanting from us in prayer. And very often, people want to have a sense of silence in their prayers and trying to understand how silence actually can be a prayer. So, this is something I talk about a lot during this time of year.
And this year in particular I have been very aware of how pragmatic we are towards prayer, that we like to pray for something and then we want to see something happen. Or we think that there are prayers that are appropriate to bring to God and that there are prayers that are not appropriate to bring to God. Or that God might answer our prayers if we have acted in a manner that we feel that God approves of and if God doesn't approve of us, God might not answer our prayers.
And I want to remind us of Hagar in the book of Genesis, out in the desert – she had an illegitimate child, she was the enslaved member of Abraham’s household and there she was with his child. And his wife, after she had her own, did not want Hagar and her child around and told Abraham to get rid of her. So he walks her out to the desert and she's there in the desert on her own with her baby – nowhere to go, not knowing what to do, and she cries. And an angel asks her, “Why are you crying?” and then reminds her-- and maybe “remind” her it's not the right word – maybe it's “informs” her that God has a plan for her and for that baby.
I think it's helpful to remember that God hears our prayers and very often answers them in miraculous ways. And sometimes those prayers are things that we don't have words for, that we turn to God in our deep sadness and our sense of loss, in our shock and consternation at what is happening in the world and the things that we see. Or something that has harmed someone that we love and sometimes we don't have the words. And even then, God responds to what that word, what those words, would have been if our cry, our grunting, our moaning, our groaning is all that we had to say.
So I want to invite us that even if it is in moans and groans and grunting only – but sometimes it might be in words and things that we are hoping for – to pray for miracles, to pray for God to do the impossible, whether that is in our family, in our church, across the street, across the state, or across the world in Ukraine. God so often hears our cries to take care of those things that we can't take care of ourselves, to take care of things in ways that are better than we could have even imagined them to get taken care of.
I want you to have freedom during the rest of this Lent to pray for miracles and to look for God's answer.