Chaplain’s Corner: CXIII

“Routing Our Prayers to the Right Address”

Most of us who work in any form today must use a computer.  Many of the Residents at Westminster Village use their computers on a daily basis as well for a variety of news, email, and finding information on a variety of topics.  51 years ago a man named Ray Tomlinson was messing around working with ARPANET, the predecessor to the internet.  In 1971 a total of 15 computers had been linked to each other.  Ray thought it might be useful one day to send messages between computers.  After about 6 hours tinkering in his spare time Ray was able to send a test message from one computer to another.  BINGO.  Ray Tomlinson is credited with both sending and receiving the world’s first email.

Now he needed a symbol to denote email’s destination.  He was quickly drawn to @.  And just like that, one of the enduring icons of the digital age was born.  Today there are more than 7 billion registered email accounts, which is not bad for a planet with 7.97 billion inhabitants.  Approximately 3 million emails are sent every second.  That’s not to say that most of them are worth reading.  About two-thirds of all emails are spam.

The @ tells us where to direct our correspondence.  If we don’t get the destination right-the address on the other side of the @ symbol will get lost in cyberspace.  Or they will become undeliverable.  A single misspelling is enough to derail the most important email of your life.

What about the messages and prayers we are desperate to share with God?  In his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul says something remarkable.  The Holy Spirit routes all our prayers to the right address.

“God’s Spirit is right alongside, helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray for, it doesn’t matter.  He does our prayer in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves…and keeps us present before God.” (Romans 8:26-27)

We can scream, groan, laugh, cry, rage or just hang our heads in silence.  We can mess up our words and mess up our theology.  But no matter what we say (or don’t say) the cries of our heart will reach God’s ears.  That’s because the Holy Spirit is God’s sign.  And he always delivers our message to the right address.



Ron Naylor, Chaplain