3 Comforts When You’re Reduced to Wordless Prayer

The Gospel Coalition | 5/25/2019 | Staff
Matty123 (Posted by) Level 3
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I was looking for an open checkout lane in Home Depot, wrestling a cart with one arm and holding my 18-month-old daughter in the other. She’d been sick with a fever all day, so I’d been carrying her through the store. Suddenly, she jerked upright and started shaking. Her mouth opened and closed as if she couldn’t breathe; she gagged, arched back, flattened against me. Her lips crunched into a tight O and went blue around the edges. For ten minutes, she was totally vacant and unresponsive.

I had the presence of mind to make sure she wasn’t choking and to ask a worker to call 9-1-1. Mercifully, as soon as the paramedics arrived, they assured me it wasn’t too serious: a febrile seizure, caused by her temperature spiking. Within 15 minutes, my daughter just wanted to drink some water and go to sleep. The episode ended with relief, and a bit of an emotional hangover the next day.

Period - Daughter - Convulsions - Way - Blankness

But in that waiting period, when my daughter’s convulsions had given way to terrifying blankness, I was reduced to the prayer equivalent of wordless gasping. The only actual word that came to mind was Please, Please. The rest was barely directed, visceral emotion.

My experience was short, but I know people who’ve endured much longer periods of pain or grief so intense they rendered the person wordless. I also know both children and adults with special needs whose caregivers teach them of God’s love, not knowing how much they might ever understand or be able to “converse” with God verbally. But extraordinarily, Christianity reveals a God whose understanding of his creatures extends even to wordless prayers.

Passage - Truths - Romans

The key passage that points to these truths is in Romans 8:

Paul describes not a thought-out, verbal prayer, but a visceral groaning—and yet this prayer is heard and even...
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