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When You Don’t Have Words to Pray, Pray Anyway

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“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.”

john bunyan

The puritan-age quote stole across my sleepy head and heart like warm tea or coffee warms you through. It’s comforting, because, well—I struggle with prayer. Messily inconsistent at best, woefully forgetful or even worse—obligatorily dutiful—my prayer life could be a lot better.

I want it to be better—this is a good thing to desire if you’re in this boat with me. But let’s call into question why we want our prayer lives to be better.

Why do we want our prayer lives to be better?

  • Is it because we think we’ll be a better Christian? More genuine? A greater witness?
  • Do we want more praise or recognition and worth in our diligent prayer times? Or…
  • Do we want a better prayer life to connect with God on an increasingly deeper soul level? To plumb the depths of His riches of grace, wisdom, holiness, power, clarity, and strength, through communing with Him?

Let it be the former, dear reader, and my own heart.

Romans 8:26, ESV says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

This is mercy. Straight up comfort and empowerment for when our hearts are numb or bleeding, angry, or depressed. Confused, overwhelmed—all of it. When we get that nudge of, “yeah, I should pray”, that is the Holy Spirit within you (Who never goes anywhere!) beckoning you to pause and be silent—and know that He is God.

Let some quiet envelope before trying to put words to your feelings. And then, when you try? Well, we have an entire 66 book of books written by the Author of Life, accessible to us to grow our prayer life.

The prayer guide already sitting on your shelf

Jesus taught us how to pray. The entirety of Scripture is filled with words we can “borrow” in prayer. There’s a reason the Hebrew prayer, the Sh’ma, was repeated multiple times a day for the Jewish people—they needed to remember who God was and what He had done for them, to inform their present struggles and heartache.

Psalm 23 is a prayer of confession—not of sin, but of truth. You probably know it—if not, look it up. It’ll be familiar. There is beauty born in the repetition of remembrance here for our prayer lives. Between here and eternity with God, we will struggle. Words will fail. Our motives will be skewed in prayer. But grace never runs out. The Holy Spirit never leaves true children of God—that is a seal of promise we
can never undo or lose.

Dear reader—take heart. Check your heart, regarding prayer. And if you just need a minute of silence—put away the distractions, upturn your palms, breathe deep—and know that He is good. Lean back in the loving arms of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit, made possible by the blood of Jesus. And ask Him to expand your heart’s desire for prayer—for Him.

He is faithful to answer with abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.


When You Don't Have Words to Pray, Pray Anyways - Meghan DeWalt | Intentional Filling

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