It was 2.30 in the morning and there I was: needing to pray aloud with my friend in her time of need. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, the words just didn’t come out.
I’ve never prayed aloud for another person before, and in this moment it could have made a difference. Yet, no matter how hard I willed it, silence prevailed. All I could do was to hug her, and remind her that Jesus loves her.
Eight hours later, I was in church on an extremely wet Sunday morning. With less than two hours sleep, the smiles and conversation didn’t come as naturally and easily as usual. My friend was dwelling on my mind.
I began to flick through my prayer book, looking for inspiration. And there it was, written in my rough scrawl: “Joel 2:25. What I know from this passage: God can restore what is broken and change it into something amazing. All you need is faith.” I took a photograph of this passage and sent it to my friend. Within minutes she replied. She had been brought to tears. She knew that she is loved and no matter how broken she feels, God will help her heal.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)
Praying aloud when no one else is around is daunting enough, yet when I was called upon to pray for a friend, it felt impossible. I usually pray through the thoughts in my mind, or in my prayer journal; I write everything down. But in times like these I find comfort in this verse, because it helps me realise that what’s most important is when talking to God, I speak to Him from my heart.
What had stopped me praying aloud? Was it fear? Was it that speaking out loud made it too real? What if you’re just speaking and it’s not the words from your heart, but the words from your head? What if you have too many emotions to convey simultaneously and the words just won’t come out?
I realised that the only prayer I’ve prayed aloud is recent years, is the Lord’s Prayer. In my opinion, the opening of the prayer contains some of the most powerful lines in the Bible:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven…
As I reflected on this, I was instantly reminded of the song Spirit Break Out, specifically: “I want to see your Kingdom here … the sound of Heaven touching Earth. Our Father, all of Heaven knows Your name!”
We’re praying and singing for Heaven to reach down to earth, to see the kingdom of our God on earth. The Lord’s prayer, whether spoken or written into powerful song lyrics, reminds me that I can call upon my Father in Heaven. I can sing out, or call out with all my heart. I can speak to Him, and He will hear me.
Except for the Lord’s Prayer, I haven’t prayed in front of people; I don’t even pray aloud when I’m alone. So maybe this is the next step. On pilgrimage [you can read my one of my older posts here], I developed my prayer life. Talking to God, even non-verbally, has been transformative.
And just as in pilgrimage it’s always about the next step, so too here: whatever is holding me back, I am going to throw myself into the arms of my Father, who wants me to speak to Him. The Father who has always heard me.