Prayer when you don’t have words

As a society, we grieve poorly. We know how to feel, celebrate, and use language to express so many positive emotions, but not for ones we deem negative.

For example, when someone wins an Oscar or a Grammy, they almost always run out of time to thank those who helped get them there. We have words that help us describe joy when we are on the mountaintops of love and success. But our vocabulary and our body language shrink when we are facing something so daunting.

 It’s as if the obstacle in front of us leaves us…speechless. 

For some of you, 2023 was the year you wanted to forget. For some of us, it was the year that our losses catapulted our wins off the scales of life, and now everything is broken. We couldn’t wait for the clock to strike midnight. 

Some of you have experienced a loss so profound that it feels like you’re a ghost drifting through what other people call reality. Some of you have walked through lawsuits, defamation, betrayal, the suffering of a child, the pain of a diagnosis, and on and on and on. 

Some of us have come to the end of our rope and begged God for an answer and a resolution to fall like Mana from Heaven. Others of us gave up on God because we prayed and prayed, but nothing worked.

Romans 8:24-28 shows us that for those of us who have said yes to Jesus, the Spirit is with us, and when we come to the end of ourselves, He is there praying for the words when we don’t have them anymore.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

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.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Have you ever considered the implications of this passage? In essence, when you are hoping and praying for something, when you come to God and you’ve exhausted the limits of the human lexicon and all you have left are groans, sighs, and tears, the HOLY SPIRIT IS THERE. He takes your emotions, your grunts, the pain, and the longings of your very heart, and He translates them into intercessory prayer. He becomes the intermediary between you and Heaven.

When we come to God in humility, frustration, anger, joy, exhaustion, or whatever state—when we simply COME—He takes our powerlessness and turns it into powerful prayers.

We wanted to give you a prayer in 2024 for the times you feel powerless. For the times you are struggling, but don’t have the words.

The Prayer When You Don’t Have Words

God, we know things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. It’s exhausting. 

There is deep suffering in this very room and in the world that we are weak and helpless to do anything about. 

We ache for the day when everything will be made right. 

Some of us are weary from years of praying the same prayer, and we’re afraid to admit that we don’t think you’re listening. 

Some of us are tired of running the race of faith when the world and its desires are pressing in on us, and we’re hanging on by a thread. 

Some of us are exhausted from chronic pain and terminal illness and don’t know how to keep going on.

There are no words.

Spirit, we don’t know how to pray in these places of pain, but you do. You are in it with us.

As promised, come and intercede for us, joining in our silent cries. 

We thank you that when we don’t have the words, you know the deepest places of our hearts even better than we do. 

We trust you to hear us and we find peace knowing that you are working it all out for good and to make us more like Jesus, even though we don’t yet see how. 

In the meantime, help us to hold fast to hope and wait patiently for the day you will come again and bring the world, and us, into your glory. 


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Speaker: Carlos Ortiz