When You Pray, What Do You Say?

When you are about to have a conversation with someone important you might rehearse what you want to say.  Imagine you were going to be introduced to the Queen of England. Wouldn’t you be a little nervous about saying things right? You might try hard to stay calm and not make yourself look stupid or uneducated.  After all, this is the QUEEN we’re talking about. She doesn’t have time to waste listening to you stumbling over your words.

But talking to your closest friend is quite different.  You already feel loved by that person. You’ve let your guard down and can speak freely and naturally. They know you well and you’re not concerned about impressing them.

So what about prayer?  Prayer is communicating with the Creator of the Universe. Yes, this trumps the Queen. By a long shot. And yet, God loves you more than your closest friend.

During my hardest days, raising seven sons while my husband traveled extensively for work, I was fighting depression and feeling all alone. I had little energy to think through eloquent prayers. I remember standing beside the washing machine loading the boys’ clothes and all I could say was “Help me, God. Help me, help me, help me.”  That’s as far as I got that day. The words didn’t really matter. I didn’t give God a list of directives for how to help me. No specifics at all. Just crying out for help, knowing He would answer and do what was best to help me.

Even though He is God, even though He is higher than anyone assigned a position of importance by men, He is something else. He is our Heavenly Father and He loves us like no one else can.

You may have heard teaching that says you must be specific when you pray. You should tell God exactly what you need. That’s true to a point but the fact is, sometimes you have no words. Sometimes you are in a place where you are just desperate for God to show up and you can’t even find the words to ask Him. Does that mean He won’t listen and answer you?

Do you really think the specifics are so important that if you can’t find the words, God will not pay attention? Perhaps if you choose the perfect words and put them in some special order, like some sort of secret code, it will unlock God’s ability to help you?

God already knows the specifics. He knows the cries of your heart better than you do.  Prayer is more like talking to your best friend than it is like trying to impress some dignitary.

On those days when all you can do is cry for help and leave the rest to God, be assured He has heard and is already sending what you need.  He knew before you asked.

“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 through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” – Romans 8: 26-27 (NIV)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” -Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)