When No Words Remain
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
God hears his children’s voices.
The Great Chicago FirIRe devastated the cITy in 1871. More than 100,000 families were left homeless and hundreds of people were killed. Local businessman Horatio Spafford watched his family fortune as it slowly reduced to ashes in the economic downturn that followed.
In 1873, he decided to take his family to Europe for an extended holiday. Business concerns forced him to send his wife and four daughters ahead of him. However, news reports came in soon afterward stating that the ship had collided with another vessel at sea. When the telegram from his wife finally arrived, it simply read, “Saved alone…”
He soon traveled across the Atlantic to comfort his grieving wife, and as the ship crossed the site of the wreck, he wrote this well-known hymn:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say:
It is well, It is well with my soul.”
Hymns provide language when our own voices fail. They are a gift of God’s grace, and provide great comfort as we walk through valleys. But eventually, the songs we sing fail to express our hearts. What happens when words fall short?
In these moments, we have hope. Our “groanings too deep for words,” do not overwhelm our loving Father. He not only understands, but intercedes for us. He intervenes on our behalf. He responds actively to his children’s voice, even when that voice cannot speak.
We may not understand how God works in each moment of our lives, but we can be encouraged by the promise that in our darkest moments, our heavenly Father hears us, intercedes for us and walks beside us, even in the valley.
- Have you felt discouraged when your prayers have lacked the words to clearly describe what you have experienced?
- What Psalms and hymns have ministered to you by offering a language to share your prayers, hopes and fears?
Spend a moment in prayer to God, knowing that even if we struggle to find the words to say, he is present, active and attentive, and is at work in every area of your life.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1