FIRMLY PLANTED ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
Last month, I described my state of being as “wordless.” The intense emotional climate that shook the words out of me has somewhat subsided; but, as shakings often do, it left a mark—one I welcome as a friend. I felt up against an impenetrable wall, and, out of heartache and desperation, wordless prayer awakened in my soul. What I saw and heard around me brought me to my knees, and I began to wonder if love manifested in wordless action could be the most powerful and effective prayer.
I’ve often wondered how we can “pray without ceasing.” We’re admonished to do this, but it seems impossible, unless you’re a monk or a mystic. What about the average person like me? What about people who have no time, busy moms, people who have to work hard all day? I set aside time to read and meet with God and try to be mindful and pray throughout the day, but full attention is often required and it goes by the wayside. Praying without ceasing? Hardly. Worship music helps keep my mind in the right place, but, honestly, these moments, petitions, and songs don’t satisfy my deep longing to hear and be heard. I need more, and prayer is so much more.
One of my favorite definitions of prayer is “the living interactive relationship we have with God about what he and I are "working on together” (Richard Foster). Working together—that sets me on fire! Prayer is a two-way exchange—it’s dynamic, active, and it’s relevant to Now. There are no how, when, or where rules. My devoted, humble heart laid bare is all that’s required. …All? That tiny word contains multitudes: all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my life, all of my willingness, all of my honesty, all that I am and all that I have.
I fall short in so many ways. I’ve wandered off the path, loved the world, wanted what’s not mine; done things I’m ashamed of…my sins are countless. Through it all I’ve experienced both the discipline and the grace of God, and I’m so very grateful for both. My devoted, humble heart laid bare can’t pretend, can’t hide. It screams a wordless prayer. It has nothing to offer except itself, and in return God gives everything. This kind of love, this kind of friendship, is deep and real…beyond words. This God of Love, who is love, speaks the language of love: compassion, humility, patience…summed up in 1 Corinthians 13. He clearly says if we love him we keep his commandments, and many of them involve loving. He clearly tells us how to treat one another. He clearly says that if we abide in him we can ask anything.
Abiding, loving, listening and obeying is my part of “working together.” If my heart is inextricably connected to his, then his will is my desire and I really can ask anything. If I “live and move and have my being in Christ,” God-prayers, spoken or unspoken, are born and released into the heavens where all things begin. So, again, I wonder if love manifested in wordless action could be the most powerful and effective prayer? That is, love shown by obeying God’s words; love shown by walking in truth, by doing what he tells me, by loving my neighbor with no restrictions or judgments.
Through this abiding love my whole life becomes a prayer—praying without ceasing. Sometimes words come, but, when there are no words, I believe Christ our intercessor understands and interprets my silent cries to the Father.
This time of year the prayer garden looks bleak. Leafless trees stand naked, exposing what’s behind and above. No shade or shelter, no concealment or pretense. Leaves litter the ground, obscuring low-growing plants and specimen rocks, narrowing the pathway. Garden creatures such as lizards, butterflies, and bees hide in their winter homes, waiting out the cold. Where is the lushness of life? Where pulses the garden heart? It’s there, hidden where my eyes can’t see. The garden will come to life as the season turns and sun and rain drench the earth again. I don’t have to say a word.
O Lord, my every desire is before You; my groaning is not hidden from You.