By Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S.

After Mass recently, a family stopped by to shake hands and chat. Inside the stroller they pushed was their youngest, sound asleep. Her parents told me the baby usually falls asleep during my preaching. Everyone’s a critic, I thought to myself, but then I remembered the legion of tricks parents sometimes resort to in order to get babies to sleep, from white noise devices to late night drives to rocking machines. I should have offered the parents the link to our masses on livestream to play back my preaching if they ever need help getting their daughter to sleep outside of Sunday morning.

During the brief visit, the mother asked a question: “What do you do if your prayer gets interrupted or feels like it runs dry?” She said that as a mother with little kids, she is constantly bombarded by thousands of requests from her kids and she feels thrown off in prayer as a result.

I think for this week’s second reading, Paul was listening in to her question and whatever answer I gave probably wasn’t good enough. “We do not know how to pray as we ought,” Paul writes to the Romans, “but the Spirit intercedes with groanings (on our behalf).”

The Spirit intercedes for us when we fall short, and maybe even intercedes for us because we fall short. Prayer is not just me on Earth talking to God in heaven. Prayer includes the thoughts, people, and needs we bring to the words we offer God. But more than that, prayer is also God working through us in the Spirit. Through prayer we participate in the life of God and through our prayers God’s working in the Trinity works through us.

At times, our prayers feel immense, as when we pray beside someone on their deathbed or when seriously ill in the hospital. We turn to prayer in tragedy and big moments of life.

We turn to prayer in smaller moments too, including prayers for a child to fall asleep. Big or small, God is active in our prayers and in our lives. Big or small, God moves through our lives, sometimes best in the small things, like a mustard seed or a little yeast in bread. We are not alone in our prayers or our relationship with our God. The Spirit does not abandon us.

God reminds us this weekend that even when we get interrupted in prayer or feel like we’re not measuring up, the Spirit is still active in and around us. God is present in the big and small. Even when we feel like we fail, God doesn’t fail and God doesn’t fail us.


Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S., is the parochial vicar of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Palm Bay, Fla. He is also a spiritual director.


Missionaries of the Precious Blood