Praying When the Words Won’t Come

You’re sitting there next to someone special in your life, and the silence is deafening. It’s not that comfortable silence—the kind that comes from dropping all pretense and no longer feeling as if you need to fill the space between you with words. It’s that awkward silence that comes from much that needs to be said but an inability to express it safely.

Perhaps it’s from fear you’ll hurt your loved one’s feelings, expose a weakness in yourself or somehow damage the relationship. Regardless, we’ve all been there in our human relationships, and many of us have been there in our relationship with God. We sometimes just don’t know what to say.

Divorce, illness, estrangement, job loss, financial stress, major life decisions can all leave us unable to envision a positive outcome. We pray for wisdom, but our emotions cloud our judgment, and our dual nature leaves us hobbling in search of steady ground.

How do you pray when staying with your husband can mean taking physical or emotional risks, but leaving him can mean destitution? How can you pray when a loved one is battling a deadly disease, and you can’t bear to see her suffer but also can’t bear to imagine life without her? How can you pray when relocating for a better opportunity will mean leaving behind all that is familiar and comfortable?

Start by praying what my favorite Christian fiction author, Jan Karon, calls “the prayer that never fails”:

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.—Matthew 6:10

We start by trusting the heart of God to do what is best. That requires surrendering to His will, and that requires faith. Remember we are assured He does all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Trust Him, even while your faith is not yet made sight.

Even in our inability to pray, we are not left without an Intercessor.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.—Romans 8:26

God, who knows all, intercedes on our behalf with groanings. Think about the word groanings. Groanings, the product of pain and toil. The God who wept over the death of Lazarus is the God who commiserates with us and lobbies for us. As if that were not too great a grace to comprehend in itself, God gives us an even greater grace.

Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.—Hebrews 7:25

Our Redeemer God—the God who superintends the universe while orchestrating the action of the tiniest cell—lives always to make intercession for us. How precious to know that, even in our silence, our God speaks on our behalf. How deep the Father’s love for us! How vast beyond all measure!

The words will come, my friends, and they will be words of praise. Trust Him.

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