Why is it that I have such a hard time putting prayers into words? I wonder about this a lot, and wrestled with it in one of my first posts, inspired by Lingamish’s Prayer for the World series and my kids’ spontaneous sentence prayers in response to that post. Each week we have followed this series and prayed, and each week I wish my prayers put in words didn’t sound so lame, bossy and like I knew better than God what He should be doing.
Outside of that time when we read and pray for the people in focus as a family, throughout the week I’ll be reminded of the picture. I’ll think of a verse that the picture makes me think of, and all those feelings and thoughts connected to that are sort of a “conversation without words” to God on the topic.
On the one hand, it feels free to be able to talk to God without words. Because even in real life, words never really end up expressing what I’m trying to say. So, I often end up feeling misunderstood or looked at like I’m strange. Well, maybe the way I think and feel IS strange, but how I internalize it is, “If I could just explain it better so that you understood, you wouldn’t think I’m so whacko.” But the last thing someone listening to me wants is MORE words, so at some point I stop trying to explain. But it still feels yuck.
With God, I don’t ever feel that way. I don’t ever have to try to find words to make sense of what I’m feeling. It doesn’t even have to make sense to me. He knows my thoughts. He knows my feelings. It is not like I dismiss Him from the picture because I don’t have to put it into words. It’s just like a wordless, ongoing conversation. (Okay, I’m feeling the “you are so whacko” vibes through my DSL modem already.)
What does this have to do with tongues? Well, I was thinking that there is praying in your own language, and then there is the spiritual gift of praying/speaking in tongues (heavenly language, prayer language–I’ve heard various terms). So if go backwards on the (totally imaginary) linear, prayer spectrum from praying in tongues to the standard praying in your own language and keep going in the opposite direction, you’ve got me. Who can’t/won’t/doesn’t (I’m not sure yet which) pray in words of any language.
So, is there a word for praying without words?