If you can’t find the words to pray

“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 (ESV)

I sat at a women’s conference lunch table that was charmingly decorated with fresh flowers and laden with delicious food. The conversation flowed as five other women and I covered many topics from the unusually warm weather to the latest trend in nail polish colors to serious difficulties in extended-family relationships.

Most of the ladies were acquaintances, but I hadn’t met the woman sitting next to me. “My name is Mem,” she said as she introduced herself and we began visiting.

Mem was from another continent. Although her English was good, there were times she couldn’t find the exact word to communicate what she was trying to say. Her inability to string together phrases properly didn’t bother me at all. However, it seemed to greatly frustrate her.

Several minutes into our conversation, my new friend tried to compliment me on something, but her words didn’t convey the proper sentiment. In fact, what she said was rather confusing, and I was left not knowing what she intended to communicate.

Then she wrapped her frustration into a statement that conveyed everything. She took a deep breath, and with exasperation declared, “Oh Karen. When you cannot understand my words, please hear my heart.” When you cannot understand my words, please hear my heart.

This sweet woman’s request really stuck with me that day. Not only did it make me think of the many times we can’t find the right words to communicate to someone else, it also made me think of prayer. There are so many times when I just can’t find the right words to say to God. Even so, my desire is that the Lord will still hear my heart. Thankfully, because of today’s key verse, I know this desire will come true.

Read this: How to build a powerful prayer life 

Tucked in Romans 8:26 is a heart-assuring promise: 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. It’s like God autocorrects our prayers!

Autocorrect is a software function that automatically makes corrections for mistakes in spelling or grammar while we’re typing on a phone or other electronic device. So, for example, if a husband means to type “gorgeous” in a text message telling his wife his thoughts about her, but instead, his fingers type “ginormous,” autocorrect can save the day, preventing him from spending the night in the doghouse. Well, it doesn’t work like that exactly, but wouldn’t it be great if it did?

How comforting it is that the Holy Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. When you just can’t find the words to pray, God still hears the heart.

There have been many times when my emotions were just too deep for words.

Like when I wept over the death of my sister-in-law, who was also one of my closest friends.

As I worried about my teenager’s choices.

While I waited for the biopsy results to come back.

And in the midst of comforting a friend who discovered her husband’s infidelity.

Each time, I trusted the Holy Spirit would intercede for me, “autocorrecting” my longings and carrying them to the throne of God.

Do you sometimes struggle with prayer, finding it difficult to put what you’re attempting to say into words? Remember the truth of Romans 8:26, and allow the Spirit of God to intercede on your behalf. God knows you completely — your thoughts, desires, all the inner longings of your heart. Trust that He’ll answer even your deepest unspoken requests.

Father, help me pray with boldness, even when I can’t find the words to say, trusting the Spirit to intercede for me and carry my requests to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now read this: When it’s hard to stay focused during Bible study 

This post originally appeared on Proverbs 31 Ministries and was republished with permission.

Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and a writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches over four million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she lives with her family in Michigan.


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