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because prayer is more than words

I used to think prayer required words. Words to express thoughts. Words to articulate feelings. Words to coax quiet places out of hiding. Words to claim truth. Words to encourage life.

Words were something I believed I never had enough of. Or, at least, not the right ones. 

On a morning run – because sometimes conversations with God happen without a pen in hand.

And I believed that to engage with God, words were required. After all, words form story. Words shape meaning. Ideas. Dreams. 

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And how could conversation with God–prayer–not involve words? How can communication take place without them? 

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That’s what I used to think.

When my heart couldn’t find its way to God, I filled journals with words. My words. His words. It was through the words of conversation that God’s voice wrapped itself around me and became my new home.

Then two years ago, in the middle of a year of therapy and the pursuit of a ton of healing, I struggled to find words to talk to God. My heart was hurting, and I didn’t trust my own thoughts. And the thoughts I did have I struggled to articulate. So I tried to communicate with God using a different approach: writing poetry. It helped more than I could imagine–an amazing tool to tap into deeper emotions and ideas that were otherwise uncovered. 

But still. Just an overreliance on words.

Aren’t words sometimes limiting? Can words possibly hold everything of a life? Of an idea? Of a dream? While I believe that words can be a springboard for healing, are they really the healing itself? 

And prayer? Isn’t prayer–conversation with God–limited when we rely purely on words? Isn’t connection with God, just like connection with another person, something that can be experienced in a place deeper than words? A place where words are, perhaps, born, but not required for connection to occur?

When I look at my journals lately, I am finding fewer and fewer words scribbled inside. It is not that I am praying less. But my conversations with God and Jesus and Holy Spirit these last few weeks, particularly, have been more experiences of listening and watching–being close to Jesus in scenes of His life while on earth, walking around with Him, holding His hand. Or sitting with Peter in his anguish within the high priest’s gate. Or huddling in heartbreak with Mary at the foot of the cross for the hours of Jesus’ suffering, in agony and pain. 

I believe this is prayer. And these last few weeks my heart is too heavy for words. How can I ask God how He is feeling about the suffering of His son while He watches Him on the cross? How can I ask Jesus what He is thinking when He is interrogated by the high priests and tortured by the entire company of Roman guards? I can’t bear it. 

While words fail me. God’s and Jesus’ and Holy Spirit’s presence does not. And I am calling this prayer. And I will choose this any day. Whatever it takes to be close to Him. In all seasons. In all moments.

I trust the words will come again. They will be useful. And I still bring my journal with me when I sit in the Trinity’s presence and go on adventrues with them. But filled pages of a journal does not determine my connection with God. And, words or not, I don’t want anything holding me back–not from the Life Jesus is offering me now.


How is your heart in this season? At the end of Lent? After a year of isolation due to Covid? Have you joined us for writing poetry with the most kind, lovely women in the private group, Loop Poetry Project? Or are you staying quiet in these weeks? Have you been able to access your deeper feelings? What are you doing to allow God in? 

Please let me know in the comments–or send me an email. I’d love to connect with you.

Bless you, dear friends. May the love of our risen Savior comfort you and lift your heart now.

Jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com



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