October 6, 2021
When Words Fail
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“I don’t know what to say anymore,” my daughter whispered as she stared at the text message she’d just received.
The phone in her hand trembled, and the tears brimming in her eyes spilled down her cheeks. She exhaled a jagged sigh, sank onto the couch and surrendered to sadness.
My heart ached for my teen and for her hurting friend on the other side of the difficult text. She was navigating a situation that was perplexing and complicated. There were no swift answers to fix it, no formula to make it disappear.
The text necessitated a response, but my girl had nothing left to say. She was depleted. Discouraged. And so very, very tired.
We sat in silence together until her steady streams of sorrow slowed to a quiet drizzle. Then I pointed to the phone in my daughter’s hand and said, “May I help you find the words?”
I paused. Prayed. And leaned a little closer to my sniffling girl. Then, one letter at a time, I helped her string together sentences into a thoughtful reply.
I don’t help my teen write every text she sends. She’s an expressive young woman and an astute communicator. But sometimes when we’re standing in the middle of painful places and difficult spaces, we need a voice to help express what our overwhelmed hearts cannot.
Of course, texting teens aren’t the only ones who find themselves short on words and long on heartache. I know that tension, too.
And I’ve discovered that, in those unscripted moments of anguish, prayer can feel hollow and hard. Though I desire to connect with God in the midst of my struggles, I can’t always find the words to verbalize my longings or articulate my needs.
But that’s when I recall the way I offered my daughter words when she had none. And I remind myself that God wants to do the same for His children, too.
I don’t need to fabricate fancy prayers when I don’t know what to say; I simply need a voice that can shape my words when I’m depleted and dry.
That’s why I’m glad the Bible isn’t just a list of rules or an assembly of sage suggestions. It’s not a collection of static discourse or a volume of ancient history lessons. The Bible is the vibrant voice of God. It’s His wisdom parceled on the page for our taking, His heart revealed through language and lyrics, stories and symbols.
According to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right …”
When I recognize this astounding truth, I am quick to borrow God’s words instead of trying to contrive my own.
When my wails of fatigue are louder than the whimpers of my faith, I turn God’s promises into my personal petitions. When confusion clutters my clarity, I speak God’s Truth into my circumstances and declare His assurances over my qualms. When anger clouds my perception, I rehearse God’s wisdom instead of rehashing my offense; I declare His glory instead of seeking mine.
And, friend, as a child of God, you can do the same.
Next time prayer feels difficult, grab your Bible and sidle up beside the One who loves you and will never leave you. Then read as if you’re listening to His voice. (Because you are!)
As you encounter God’s sweeping words on the page, ask the Holy Spirit to highlight a specific word in your heart. Pay attention to the way a particular verse, phrase, idea or concept in Scripture speaks into your current circumstance. Ask God to help you understand what He’s saying. Then turn those timely truths into your personal petitions.
Scribble them in a notebook.
Sing them in a song.
Post them on your mirror.
Text them to yourself (and maybe to a friend, too!)
Let God’s voice bridge the gap between the circumstances that have swallowed your words and the longing that drives you to prayer.
And as you make room for your heavenly Father to speak, remember this wondrous truth — though our words may falter or fail, God’s Word never will.
Dear Jesus, thank You for being a speaking Savior. Teach me to pray Your words and trust Your promises. I want to anchor my hope in Your timeless Truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 55:11, “That’s how it is with my words. They don’t return to me without doing everything I send them to do.” (CEV)
What words from God do you need to “borrow” right now? Share your ideas in the comments, and we’ll pray His truths together.
© 2021 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.