What If You Have No Words To Pray?
You are holy
Come and fill my soul with who you are
In my silence You still hear me
In the quiet of this moment
I am heard
And at a loss for words
The above words are from a song titled Loss For Words by Charles Billingsley. If you’ve ever been so sad, so lost and hurt that you didn’t have the words to reach out and talk to God, this song describes it so well.
"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 with groans that words cannot express."
I've been a Christian since I was a very young girl. But about fifteen years ago, when a local radio station began playing contemporary Christian music, I began to draw even closer to Christ. Something about those songs reached deep inside me and grabbed something in my spirit.
And I’m so thankful they did, because some of those songs saved my life. Maybe not literally, but most definitely spiritually.
Three years ago, almost to the day, something happened that forever changed me. It was an event so unexpected and so devastating that my heart was truly shattered and I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover.
All of this happened on a Friday. I had plans for the next day to take the ferry across the water and visit my dear friend, Sharon, who lives on the peninsula. I’d been looking forward to it for a long time because we don’t get to see each other very often. But when I woke up on Saturday morning, I didn’t think I’d be able to make the trip. I’d cried all night. My eyes were swollen and my face was blotchy. Even a nice hot shower and a ton of make-up did nothing to help me look human. But still, my husband encouraged me to go. He thought spending the day with a close friend would be good for me.
I agreed. As I’ve mentioned before in my friendship post, Sharon is an incredible prayer warrior, and she gives great hugs and lots of encouragement. In fact, I knew having a nice long talk with her would bring me incredible amounts of comfort.
But as soon as I left the driveway, tears started to overtake me. I tried to pray, but I had no words. I was empty. No matter how hard I tried, I could find no words. Hoping the music would distract me, I turned on the radio. I don’t even remember what was playing as I drove the curvy roads down the island toward the ferry landing.
The road I was driving that day winds along the water, before turning up a steep hill flanked on both sides by evergreen trees. At the top of this particular hill there’s an opening in the trees, and for a moment before going downhill it overlooks a valley. On a clear day, you can see the Olympic Mountains that are across the water where I would soon be headed. But we don’t always have clear days here, so when I can see the mountains I truly feel blessed.
On this particular dark and bleak morning (which so totally matched my spirit), it was difficult to see anything through the fog. But to my amazement, as I reached the top of the hill, the fog didn’t obliterate the scenery. The treetops poked out above the fog. And snow-capped mountains towered above the treetops. A golden shimmering pink and orange glow illuminated everything. And at that most magnificent moment, this song came on the radio:
clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
all the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in light
and darkness tries to hide…
Those words…those beautiful words sung by Chris Tomlin at the exact moment those mountains were illuminated above the fog…they took my breath away.
In that moment when I was so broken I couldn’t find the words to pray, I felt bathed in the Father’s love…something I needed so desperately at that moment. I wish I could say I continued my trip across the water without shedding anymore tears. But I can’t. What I can tell you is that after I got off the ferry on the other side of the water, I had a very similar experience. Just as the sadness started to overwhelm me again, those glorious mountains peeked out again and Who Am I by Casting Crowns came on and ministered to me not just with their whole song, but with these powerful ending words:
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
I am Yours
Whom shall I fear, Whom shall I fear
As I drove along that day, I felt Christ’s presence in a way I’ve never felt before. I always knew He was there. I'd just never felt Him surrounding me quite like this. I knew He was ministering to me, lifting me up, holding me close, and helping me focus my eyes, my heart and soul on Him.
This happened to me a couple of more times that day, with songs such as: I Will Lift My Eyes by Bebo Norman (God, my God, I cry out: Your beloved needs You now…) and Rescue by The Desperation Band (I need you Jesus, to come to my rescue, where else can I go?). These are all songs I’ve heard a hundred times before, but now heard in a much different way.
When I started my journey that morning, I was so lost and empty I couldn’t find a way to pray. There were moments when I doubted unconditional love really existed. But by the time I arrived at my dear friend’s house, I was no longer at a loss for words. I was talking to God, telling Him exactly what I needed, and I felt so loved.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had stayed home, curled up in my bed that day, instead of making the trip across the water. Would I have eventually found the right words to pray? Would I have recognized the Lord ministering to my spirit in some other way? I truly don’t know. And I don’t want to know. I just know the words of those songs have helped me through the darkest time of my life.
When I was empty, when I was at a loss for words, God was still holy and His spirit carried my cries straight to His heart. He used that day to surround me with His love, to remind me I am His beloved child and He will love me unconditionally.
To this day, when the pain sneaks back in, He continues to seek me out with His peace and His promises, to bathe me in the warmth of His presence and His everlasting love.
I hope you never find yourself at a place of total loss, where you can’t find the words to reach out to God for comfort. But if you do, I hope you’ll remember Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit is there—interceding—bringing our words to the Lord.
Loss for Words - Charles Billingsley/Don Koch/Brian Whitehttp://www.charlesbillingsley.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=77094
How Great Is Our God – Chris Tomlin/ Jesse Reeves/Ed Cashhttp://www.christomlin.com/
Who Am I? – Casting Crowns
I Will Lift My Eyes – Bebo Normanwww.bebonorman.com/
Rescue – The Desperation Band/Jared Andersonhttp://www.jaredanderson.com/index.html
All photos copyright by Suzie Johnson