Prayer Without Words

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Perhaps you have been there. Maybe you happen to find yourself there now, a place where you cannot seem to conjure up words to pray. Your lips can make the movements, but nothing comes out. How is it that you got to this point? Maybe you have found yourself getting caught up in recent news headlines. Maybe the repeated blows of life have left you feeling as if all hope is lost. Maybe you’re like me and suffer from bouts of anxiety. Or maybe you find yourself in this position for no known reason at all. All you know is that you cannot seem to muster up adequate words to present to our holy God.

This can be a very daunting but humbling place to be. Two years ago, it was the exact place I found myself. Each morning when I woke up, I found myself void of words. Not only did it seem as if my words were absent, it felt (at least in the moment) that God was absent as well. I felt as if I had zero control over my life and my emotions. I was completely and utterly vulnerable. However, I was in no way alone during this season.

When Words Are Absent

Here are four truths that I learned during this time. I hope they are an encouragement to whatever position you find yourself in today.

1. Even when our words are absent, our God is not. We cannot always rely on our words. However, we can always rely on God. There is never a time when He is not aware of what you are going through. God knows our deepest thoughts and emotions, even when we do not have the words to express them. In fact, Scripture tells us that in our weakness the Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:26). This is something that should encourage us as we endure these seasons.

2. Even when our words are absent, we have the Word. We do not need anecdotes or cliches. Ultimately, what we need is God’s Word. When we don’t have words to pray, we can be encouraged and challenged by the Scriptures. We are not the first to experience suffering or difficult times. The Bible is full of men and women who endured various trials and tribulations. These examples within Scripture often give us words to match the thoughts and emotions we are experiencing.

For example, the book of Psalms provides several examples of prayers, praises, laments, supplications, and even requests. There have been many times I have read a psalm and felt as if the psalmist was looking into my life and documenting what he observed. The Psalms are real, relatable, and honest. When we don’t have words to pray, we can let His Word speak for us and through us.

3. Even when our words are absent, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are there for us. “Brandon, I want you to know that I see you and I’m here for you.” These were the words spoken to me by one of my mentors during a discipleship group meeting. I had been struggling to the point where I was overcome with emotion. I will never forget these words. They were the exact words that I needed to hear at that moment. After acknowledging me, the group I was with huddled around me and began to pray for me.

I wish I could say that immediately after their prayers, I was better. I wasn’t. However, at that moment, their prayers were balm to my wounds. They were ointment to my pain. When we don’t have the words to pray, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who do. We must fight with every ounce of strength we have to avoid isolating ourselves from others. We must lean heavily on those around us for strength and encouragement.

4. Even when our words are absent, we have hope in Christ. Maybe you find yourself speechless because you lack hope. Life is rough sometimes. Often, we feel as if we are being continually beaten down by the punches of everyday life. However, I want to remind you that we do have hope. Our hope is not found in our work or in our circumstances, rather, our hope is found in Christ. Unlike the inconsistency of our emotions, Christ’s finished work is just that, finished!

When we don’t have words to pray, we can sit in awe of what has already been done on our behalf. We can meditate on the promise that Christ will return. While stocks, health, and employment are uncertain and are always at risk, Christ’s return is certain and imminent. Those that belong to Him will experience no more pain, no more death, and no more conflicting emotions. God will dwell with his people forever and they will experience true rest.

A New Perspective

I am thankful for each of these truths. Not only did I walk through this season with a new perspective on prayer, but I also learned a lot about myself. I realized, through the counsel of others, that there were deep wounds that needed to be mended. There were many events in my life that I had suppressed for many years. This season allowed me to face this head-on. The truth is, I needed this season. I needed to be pushed to the point where I had little to no words so that I could ultimately rest in His Word.

Maybe you are in this season because of recent news headlines. If so, rather than opening your newsfeed, open the Scriptures. Maybe you are in this season due to the repeated blows of life. If so, remember the ultimate blow that was taken on your behalf by Christ on Calvary’s cross. Regardless of why you find yourself in this season, know that God is present and always will be. We must trust that God will use these difficult seasons for our good and for His glory.

I pray today that if you find yourself in this position you would be encouraged. Know that God doesn’t need your words to know you. He made you and He loves you dearly. In times when there are no words, be still and know that He is God.

  • Anxiety
  • Brandon Ward
  • Depression
  • Prayer
Brandon Ward

Editor and Content Manager

Brandon Ward serves as the Editor and Content Manager for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from Mississippi State University and an M.Div. in Preaching and Pastoral Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Currently, he is pursuing a Th.M. in Church History. Brandon is happily married to his wife, Debby, and they have two children.

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