The world is filled with language–there are well over 5,000 recognized languages and dialects around the globe. And within each language are thousands upon thousands of words– nouns and verb forms and adjectives; names and even grunts and sighs and “clicks” that vary from language group to language group.
In spite of this, we often find ourselves “speechless”– unable to find a word or sound that adequately communicates our thoughts or feelings in the moment. We stammer or sigh, gesture, or scream– but the words either don’t come or they don’t exist.
God knows and understands our innermost heart– with or without words. The Apostle Paul refers to this in Romans, chapter 8, when he talks about the Spirit interceding for us with groans that words cannot express (v. 26). And it’s not always groaning– sometimes there are no words for our joy– only dancing or tears of gladness. Sometimes, there are wails and cries that come straight from our broken hearts. Sometimes, our excited thoughts come so fast that we cannot form words and sounds to keep up.
Prayer isn’t always about words– carefully drafted lists of requests or thank-you’s for our blessings–sometimes prayer is a spontaneous gush of sound or movement; sometimes, it is an intense stillness and profound silence, such that your heartbeat is deafening and the very air sings in your ears. Sometimes, it is the eruption of pain and guilt, regret and despair–the sound of your soul being pulled up through your throat and ripped almost in two. And sometimes, miraculously, it is the overwhelming presence of God in all of his Holiness, Splendor, and Might that defies any human utterance, but draws out pure praise, unfiltered by language!