When Words Fail Us

Monday, May 26, 2014
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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJV)

In many places, the Bible tells us about prayer; there are too many to begin to mention even a few of them. But to be honest, I find that prayer becomes such a ritualistic activity at times. We pray before meals; some do it after, as well; some of us pray when we go to bed; others pray when we wake up; some of us pray any time under any circumstance. The minister is expected to pray in church, and we begin and end meetings with a prayer. But I find myself falling into repetition, praying the same words quite often. Sometimes, words fail me. Let me explain.

On April 17th, 25 years ago, our eldest grandson almost drowned in our pool. We had an above-ground pool with a winter cover on it, and on top of that was about a foot of ice-cold water with about half an inch of ice on it that morning. We looked after our local grandchildren a couple of days a week, and the little boy and his baby brother were with us that day. He asked for permission, and he went outside. He threw a stick onto the ice, and then climbed in to retrieve it. He fell through the ice and was face down in the water when my wife saw him. I rushed out and jumped in and pulled him out. He was not breathing. We called 911, and the operator told us to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After a while, he started to breathe again, but he was unconscious. The ambulance picked him up and took him to the local hospital, then, accompanied by a doctor and a nurse, he was transferred to a bigger hospital, where he was in a coma for three days. The prognosis was not good.

We agonized and worried; we blamed ourselves for letting him out by himself; I blamed myself for not having the pool area closed in the wintertime. There were so many thoughts going through our minds. We could not eat, and we could not sleep, and we could not pray. I tried to — after all, that's what we were taught — it was part of our life. But words failed me. For three days, we were in a terrible state.

On the fourth day, we went to see him again, but instead of being in the intensive care unit, he was running down the hall, playing with another little patient. He waved at us and said, "Hi Oma! Hi Opa!" and he kept right on playing.

Even though words had failed us when we walked through the valley of shadow of death, we know that God comforted us. Although I know that many people prayed for him, I am also convinced that during those difficult days, the Spirit prayed on our behalf.

Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (NKJV)

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we know that we can always come to You in prayer, and that You do indeed hear our prayers. But Lord, there are times when words fail us, and we thank You that the Holy Spirit will then intercede for us. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Beautiful story Joel. Thanks for sharing.

    Thank you so much for this important message. Sometimes we feel too helpless to respond as we know we should. Blessings.

    Thank you Joel for sharing such a powerful testimony of faith. I’m certain many will be praying on your behalf and holding you all up in prayer. Praise God for the outcome.

    Thank you for sharing your traumatic experience. The results were indeed a miracle. Thanks be to God. Your words provide encouragement to others. I always find them inspirational and uplifting.

    I came upon this devotional a few minutes ago, and I thank you for it. I sometimes feel the same way – as today, and tonight out of the clear blue come these words that are SOO meaningful. God knows what he’s doing, what we need and when we need it. Thank you again.

    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for sharing your biblical insights. I too have experienced difficulty praying at times, especially during a crisis; perhaps tears count as prayers when words fail (Psalm 56:8). I’m happy to hear God healed your grandson.

    One of those situations in which no one wishes to find him or herself. Grateful for the recovery of your grandchild. We have three children and nine grandchildren. Every so often I find myself thinking that we have lead such a blessed life, how would we handle a tragedy. Hopefully our faith would kick in and hopefully, it will never happen.
    Thanks for this devotional and the others you so generously offer.

    Hi Joel;
    Wow. That was a terrible time for you and your wife and all concerned. You wish it was just a dream and that you would wake up and everything would be fine. I’ve gone through something similar and wished that I was dreaming. And yes, it is at those times that I could not pray, the words were not there. But as you say, the Spirit prays on our behalf with words too deep for us to understand. God does know our hearts and thanks be to God that this incident turned out well. It must have been hard for you to share this story with us, the readers. But like you, there are others out there that need to know that they are not the only ones that something like this happened. Keep writing!

    Dear Joel:
    I just enjoyed your devotional on prayer. I am over 70 years old and have been reading God’s word and Christian books since I learned to read, and praying since I learned to talk!
    I just read an amazing book called The Power of Praying Boldly by Will Davis Jr. It is a powerful book and has a chapter near the end on When You Don’t Know How To Prayer. It is all about the Holy Spirit taking over for us when we are too traumatized to prayer. It expands on what you wrote in your devotional.
    If you can get this book, I know you would see yourself in that chapter and really enjoy how the author explains the situation.
    I always enjoy your devotionals, and wish you all of His blessings as you continue this work for Him.

    Thank you Joel for such words of comfort to so many of us.

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