“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.” -John Bunyan
I don’t know how your writing process works for you, but when I sit down in front of my computer to begin writing I do it with the intention of being brilliant. Every time I fully expect something to magically pour from my fingertips onto the blank page. So often though, I sit there staring at the page with a blinking cursor silently beckoning me begin, but the words are stuck and they won’t come.
Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to be brilliant word smiths to approach our heavenly Father in prayer? That he doesn’t require us to compose perfect verse before he will listen, or answer?
The other day my heart was heavy with a situation that could alter a family’s lives permanently, a family I deeply care about. I was as blank as a new piece of paper. I had no words. Finally, I said, “Father, I don’t know how to pray.” Immediately, Philippians 4:6 came to mind: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT)
Then I said, “But God, I don’t know what’s needed.” The last part of the verse came to me again, “…thank him for all he has done.” So I began thanking God for the things I knew he has done for them. It was really awkward at first; I was grasping for straws – he still has his hair, she still has her health - but I kept at it. Then it was as if someone turned the faucet handle from drip to pour. Words began rushing out of my mouth! Then I couldn’t speak at all because I was so overwhelmed as I recalled God’s goodness and grace, over and over again in their lives. Instead of words, tears flowed.
After the second time I blew my nose and I found my voice again, it was Jesus’ model for prayer that I finally prayed: “…Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matt. 6:10, NKJV)
I found out later that day that their situation completely turned around. Enemy voices were quieted and favor was given where none was found before. God showed up again and proved himself faithful! Faithful to work all things together for good as his word says in Romans 8:28.
So tomorrow when it’s time for me to work on my story again, I’m going to pray and thank God for all that he’s done for me. For the opportunity to write. For the story idea he’s given me. For the freedom to choose the genre with which to tell it. For salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. For the privilege to be called His child.
And if beautiful prose should appear on the page, I will thank him for that, too.