I had the opportunity to babysit my young grandson recently. Although he’s talking more and is better able to communicate what he wants, his vocabulary is understandably limited since he’s still less than 2 years old. He’s obviously smart for his age – the unbiased evaluation of all grandparents concerning their grandchildren – but he can’t always verbally express everything going on in his busy mind. Sometimes he would simply call out my name when he wanted me to do something – “Papaw! Papaw!” Most of the time I had an idea what he had in mind. When I asked if he was wanting me to do such-and-such, he would nod affirmatively and say, “Yeshhh.”
In many ways we’re like little children in relation to our great God. We’re limited in our knowledge, understanding, and even in our ability to express what’s going on in our hearts and minds. Certainly we should be growing and maturing in our faith. However, we’ll always possess childlike limitations in this present state of existence simply due to the fact that we’re human and are earthbound creatures.
Sometimes our inabilities to adequately know what is needed or how to ask for it come through as we look to God in prayer. Our hearts may be full, heavy, or hurting due to personal loss, painful situations, or a burden over what is going on in the world around us. In some cases we may not know exactly what to ask for. In other situations we just may not know how to verbalize what is in our hearts. We know we need to reach out to our Heavenly Father who loves us. We know He can supply the need. We know we can trust Him. However, we struggle with putting into words or into a prayer the longings welling up within us. Maybe all we can do is call out His name or voice some general cry for assistance – “Father” – “God, I need you!” — “Jesus, help me!”
While we eventually need to seek to move beyond such simple cries to a greater understanding of God’s will and to being able to express ourselves and present our concerns to the Lord in prayer more fully, we have some assurances about our limitations and inadequacies when it comes to those moments when we struggle to express our concerns. The Triune God is there to hear us and help us in spite of our childlike struggles.
God the Father knows what we need even before we ask (see Matthew 6:8). He still wants us to ask, seek, and knock on His door with our requests. However, when we have a hard time even knowing the extent of the need, much less trying to express it, we can comfort ourselves with the fact that God knows all about it. He is better aware of the situation than we are. So if you can’t verbalize it, that’s OK. The Father knows.
God the Son has walked in our shoes, He knows what we’re going through, and He is interceding on our behalf. The Bible pictures Him as our great High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted just as we are. Therefore, we can come boldly before God’s throne in prayer because Jesus is there as our Mediator (see Hebrews 4:14-16).
God the Holy Spirit is also assisting us at those times. The Bible assures us that when “we do not know what we should pray for as we ought … the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered… He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
So when you can’t express what’s in your heart, reach out to God anyway. He knows. He cares. And He’s listening and answering.