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When My Words Fail Me by Emmitt Drumgoole

July 13, 2019, at 8:18 a.m. I opened my prayer journal and wrote these words in big bold letters, “Lord, I don’t have anything to say, unless you help me.”

Staring at this nearly blank page I can't help but wonder why I was short on words to pray that day. My typical journaled prayers span between 200 — 500 words. But not July 13, 2019. In just 11 words, I had prayed all that I was able to pray.

I can not recall exactly what I was thinking. I am not sure what my emotional or spiritual state was at the time of my writing. Was I full of joy, and could not express it out of sheer delight? Was I in anguish and could not express it in words? Was I tired, so much that I was empty of all feelings and emotions? Honestly, I do not know. What I have is the evidence that I wanted to pray, and that I did not have the words to pray it.

I am familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans that discuss praying when we don’t know what to pray. He writes that when we lack the words or knowledge of what to pray, the Spirit of God helps us by interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26). This is of comfort because it takes away the pressure to feel like my prayers must do something. Yes, Prayer can be requests, but at its core, it is not requests alone. Prayer at its core is a loving, conscious relationship with God. As Augustine says, “True, whole prayer is nothing but love.” 

When I am wordless, I can trust that God is able to both search my heart and be present with me even when I have found few words to say. Perhaps even more, when I have found no words to pray at all.

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