How to pray without words

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will ...

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In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27, NIV

One Sunday morning, a man visiting my church stood to give his testimony. In broken English, he described the scene in which he first saw the woman who would become his wife, the moment when he first felt God calling to him.

“These people were singing, but not with their mouths,” he said. “It was a deeper song.”

That’s when my tears started. Because isn’t that what most of us want? To reach God, to commune with Him? With or without words.

Let’s face it. I am a writer, and even I have those times when the words won’t come.

Usually when we’re without words, it’s because we’re hurt. Cynical. Disillusioned. Heartbroken. Weary. We may have lost a parent or sibling or child or friend. We may be facing a broken marriage, a suicidal teen, an addiction, financial devastation, or abuse.

Or maybe we’re just uninspired. Tired. Worn out from carrying our fears around. Exhausted from overscheduling and under-resting. Dealing with depression or illness or a million tiny little worries.

I’ve been there, desperate for God but unable to draw my mind in, unable to reach out to Him, either verbally or in writing. And even in those moments, I’ve felt the irony. The only One who can truly make a difference in the situation is the One I can’t seem to talk to.

But the truth is that words are not required. Prayer, in its most simple definition, is communion with God. I often think of it as a conversation, but it doesn’t have to be.

Have you ever sat in companionable silence with a spouse, parent or friend? Enjoyed a peaceful afternoon on the porch with a grandparent, no words needed?

When I gave birth to my children, I had no words to describe what I felt, so I just sat there, looking at that beautiful new creation, soaking in gratitude.

When my mom died, as I stood in the receiving line, some of my favorite people walked up, looked into my eyes, hugged me, and moved on. Without saying a single word, they communicated everything I needed to hear. Everything they wanted to say.

Next time you feel stuck, when you stumble over words or are wrestling with emotions you can’t seem to wrangle, why don’t you try something new? Sit in silence, your mind focused on God. Look around and find the beauty in your environment. Draw a picture, doodling names and images and offer it as prayer. Work your way through your daily tasks, and keep the mindset of dedicating your work—laundry, cleaning, dishes, gardening—to God as an act of worship. Listen to a piece of worship music and let yourself get lost in the sound.

Or sing a new song, from a deeper place.

It just might help you get past whatever it is that is blocking your path. I promise you, God will receive it. He will understand that it is prayer. He will know what your heart feels and what your soul needs.

And before long, the words will come. But even if they don’t, you’ve still prayed, and in the process, you’ve drawn closer to God. Because wherever God is, lives are changed.

With or without words.

Praying Without Words

This past week I got to post at Jennifer Slattery’s blog—about praying even when words won’t come. Here’s a preview, but click on over to read the rest of it there. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit ...

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GRAPHIC deeper song

This past week I got to post at Jennifer Slattery’s blog—about praying even when words won’t come. Here’s a preview, but click on over to read the rest of it there.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27, NIV

One Sunday morning, a man visiting my church stood to give his testimony. In broken English, he described the scene in which he first saw the woman who would become his wife, the moment when he first felt God calling to him.

“These people were singing, but not with their mouths,” he said. “It was a deeper song.”

That’s when my tears started. Because isn’t that what most of us want? To reach God, to commune with Him? With or without words.

Let’s face it. I am a writer, and even I have those times when the words won’t come.

Usually when we’re without words, it’s because we’re hurt. Cynical. Disillusioned. Heartbroken. Weary. We may have lost a parent or sibling or child or friend. We may be… [read more]

Wednesday’s Word: WAIT

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here. Wait ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here.


Wait

“Wait upon the Lord.” I’ve read this in the Bible. I hear it from friends. I need the reminder because sometimes I want to push my way through things. Make them happen on my own and not wait for Your timing. But maybe, just maybe, I’m using that as an excuse not to have to act. To face challenges. To risk disappointment or failure. Lord, let me wait when YOU tell me to wait. And while I’m waiting, let me grow ever closer to you. Then, please let me know when the time to wait is over and the time to move forward is at hand. When that time comes, help me trust that You will never leave my side. Amen.

Wednesday’s Word: REFLECT

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here. Reflect ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here.


Reflect

A reflection is rarely perfect—there’s some dust on the mirror, or a ripple in the pond—but the image is true enough, most of the time, for us to see what it’s supposed to look like. Lord, let me reflect You. I won’t always get it right. It will probably be easy enough to tell that I’m not You. But what if I could reflect just a portion of the light that You shine? What if I could offer a fraction of the forgiveness You’ve granted, the hope You’ve imparted, the love You’ve lavished on me? What if people could look at me—and see You? What if they could look at the imperfect and glimpse perfection? What if I lived my life in such a way that people would long to reach for You?

Wednesday’s Word: REACH

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here. Reach ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word—and, from there, let our thoughts take us where they may. Read more about the idea here.


Reach

Some of my favorite Bible verses are about reaching. In Luke 5, Jesus reached out to the leper. In John, Jesus told Thomas to reach into his side so he could stop doubting and believe. In Psalm 18, “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Here’s the beauty of it: the reaching goes both ways. I reach. He reaches. He reaches; I do. It never stops, never fails, never ever ceases. All I have to do is hold out my hand. Or grasp the one He’s already extended to me.

Wednesday’s Word: HORIZON

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here. Horizon We drove partway to Iowa Friday night to watch Anna’s ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here.


Horizon

We drove partway to Iowa Friday night to watch Anna’s swim meet, then got up early Saturday to travel the rest of the way. I’m not a morning person. But I was amazed by the beauty—even though it was early, even though there was snow and the trees are nothing but bare branches and the ground showing through was a dull brown. Because you could see the gently undulating hills, rounded against the horizon. And behind the icy white, draped with purple-gray shadows, the sky glowed, like the hills were being back-lit. The color was clearer, brighter, a pale (but yet somehow vivid) yellow-white-blue. And I thought, that’s what hope looks like. Just past the horizon. Just out of sight, but not out of reach. Light. Potential. Perching on the edge of the precipice while we wait. Knowing if we keep our eyes on the horizon, we will soon see what we’re waiting for.

Wednesday’s Word: BLOOM

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here. Bloom As Valentine’s Day approaches, stores are filled with red and ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here.


Bloom

As Valentine’s Day approaches, stores are filled with red and pink and heart-shaped boxes and flowers. Everyone’s focused on their sweethearts—but today I want to think about You, Lord. The One who loves me, adores me, even cherishes me, more than anyone else. I want to buy myself a big, gorgeous bouquet as a reminder. But I know that if I do, it will only be a matter of days before the petals litter the table around the vase. And before I’ve even really enjoyed them, the flowers’ usefulness will be worn out.

It seems like I’m always in such a hurry. I want to get to the beauty and skip the long, tedious process of getting there. But as I reflect, I realize that the bloom is just a small part of the whole life cycle. Before the flower reaches its full beauty, its seed must begin buried in the dark, deep in the dirt. Water and light and nutrients allow it to grow. Conditions must be right, temperatures in a precise range. And time must pass. Eventually, when all conditions are met, the flower finally blooms.

Thank You for waiting, for providing the necessary ingredients, for having the vision to see what I might become. And for tending to me, watching eagerly for the blossoms to burst forth—yet not discounting the long process during which I attempt to become something beautiful. Thank You for not skipping past the hard, less glamorous moments. Thank You for growing me, slowly but surely, into the glorious burst of color You’ve had in mind all along. Something that is not fleeting or precarious, but a transforming beauty that remains.

Wednesday’s Word: TRANSPARENT

Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here. Transparent One of many things I love about watercolors is their ...

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Sometimes we run out of words. And sometimes we have too many of them. Sometimes there’s so much to ask that we don’t even know where to begin. Which is why, on Wednesdays, we simplify to one word. Read more about the idea here.


Transparent

One of many things I love about watercolors is their transparency. The way the colors seem clear and light, the pigment pure yet soft. Transparent has become a popular buzzword, which makes me not want to like it, but the truth is it is exactly how I want to be defined. I want to let what’s underneath show through. I want the colors and layers to blend, to be complicated and nuanced yet clear and bright. I want to be more than what’s on the surface, and I don’t want to hide what’s inside.

Because, in truth, Lord, I am the accumulation of all of my experiences, a blend of all my feelings and troubles and issues and hang-ups. It’s sure easier to be opaque, to hide all the ugliness under a solid exterior. But then no one can see You inside me. No one can witness the transformation You’re effecting. Seeing a single color is fine and it can be pretty. But the true beauty comes with the layering and juxtaposition. The beauty is in all the colors coming together to make one exquisite work of art.

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