WHAT TO PRAY WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO PRAY

I was silent on social media yesterday because the world is such a sad place some days and I don't have more than one healing word.

More like a Name than a word, come to think of it.

Jesus.

Oh, Jesus.

I guess that's two words. Or a sad groan that finds its rest in the One who is the Word. That word, that name, was the only one that felt secure in the face of human suffering yesterday...and many days.

Lots of people get loud online when big things break, other times there seem to be few words to share. I loved this short Facebook post by Kelli Stuart last night — it confirmed that few words are often the right words. She's given me permission to share those words here:

On a day that feels desperately heavy due to the horrific events in Vegas, I found myself sitting next to the sweetest older couple on the plane. They immediately struck up conversation, opening with the man, Jimmy, asking me to check on his cane in the overhead bin and make sure it hadn’t been smashed under the weight of a bag that someone had put there.

After making sure his cane was safe, we talked further. I found out that they were both 93 years old, they had five daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren. Finally, I asked them how long they had been married. The answer?

72 years! SEVENTY-TWO YEARS!!!

’What’s the secret to staying married for 72 years?” I asked.

’Jesus,’ she answered. Miss Darcy smiled at me and nodded her head. ‘You love each other and you love Jesus.’

’Well,’ Mr. Jimmy interrupted, ‘it also helps that we both stayed alive all these years. And she always makes sure I have my glasses when we leave the house.’

Jesus. Life. Glasses. Love.

There is so much ugliness in the world, but Mr. Jimmy and Miss Darcy reminded me that with Jesus and love (and glasses), the world isn’t completely devoid of sweetness.

Jesus — He's my one word these days.

Perhaps you feel the pressure to say all the words and pray all the prayers and argue all the points online each day. Let me encourage you with the lyrics of an old church song I used to sing as a child:

"Let my words be few,
Jesus, I am so in love with You."

When we are in love with Him, all we can do is trust Him. And when we trust, we often find ourselves getting quieter and quieter. 

The quieter I get, the more I think of abiding in the simplicity of few words. And this new book came to mind as I pondered word count.

Could the title be more timely? In the midst of a seemingly ceaseless roll of human tragedy and devastating loss, it is common to not know how to pray. Sometimes we can only groan along with the Spirit. 

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.
— Romans 8:26

What a reminder today that we don't need lots of big Christian words in times like these. Only a few choice ones, like faithful David's small smooth stone pebbles from the river bank.

Lisa Whittle's "Five-Word Prayers" devotional reminds us that "prayer is not about word count; it's about heart intent"

If you've lost your way in your prayer life, and lost your words, in this present age with so much ache and so many words, but want desperately to start again, start here. 

What a wonderful resource.

"Five-Word Prayers: Where to Start When You Don't Know What to Say to God" gives you the simple words you're lacking, and moves you from groaning to praying. A few of Lisa's prayers are: I need You desperately today. Set my burdened heart free. Help me to forgive myself...

Jesus. Glasses. Life. Love.

Let my words be few,
Jesus, I am so in love with You.

Taking a moment of silence to simply groan for those who lost loved ones in Vegas...and can only groan themselves.


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