Hawaiian LanguageWe do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26


When I was in my twenties, I played percussion for several years in a Polynesian show band. I fell in love with the Hawaiian culture, their gentle “aloha” spirit, their customs, and even their language. Although I never learned to speak Hawaiian, I memorized the words of many of the songs we performed and learned some basic vocabulary and phrases. Many years later, I wrote a novel based on my experiences during the time I was with the show. Since I wanted to portray the Polynesian culture as accurately as I could, I contacted a Hawaiian friend here in my home state of Minnesota to advise me on All Things Hawaiian. She delivered in spades. She not only proofread my book for accuracy, but she insisted that I use the thirteenth “letter” of the Hawaiian alphabet, the “glottal stop,” which looks like this: ‘. You may think that I just typed an apostrophe, but the glottal stop is straight, not slanted. The best example of the usage of this “hiatus” is in the name of the Island State, Hawai’i. In between the two “i’s” at the end of the word is something like the English oh-oh. In Hawaiian, the glottal stop is similar to a consonant, the second most common in the language which appears frequently and is often left out by non-natives trying to speak the language.


My Hawaiian friend’s conscientious editing of my novel reminds me of how the Holy Spirit steps in when we struggle in prayer. We cannot think of the words to say to God; we stumble and stutter and find ourselves at a loss to know what to say to our wonderful, loving Creator. When this happens, we have a special “Editor” who comes to our aid and “groans” with just the right intonation and all the special meaning we are trying to convey. Just like the Hawaiian language would not be complete without the glottal stop accenting many of its lovely words, the Holy Spirit makes sure that we can tell our Lord what’s on our mind in the most meaningful way possible.


Holy Spirit, come to us when we are at a loss for words. Help us express to the Triune God what is on our hearts. Amen


Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, or from .

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