“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26) 

Prayer is often expressed in words, ours. God values words. Words matter and words mean things. In our work as leaders we know the power of language. In fact, the ability to speak makes us like God himself who created with words. Teaching us to talk is part of making us in his image. Jesus is described as “The Word made flesh.” 

But sometimes our communication with God goes deeper than language can capture. We know from human communication that non-verbal signals are a bigger portion of what we say than what we “say” in language. “Body language” and tone of voice can trump the literal meaning of words. 

Prayer can also be non-verbal. The Bible mentions all kinds of “body language” postures for prayer: kneeling, raising hands, clapping, shouting, and lying face down… There are dozens. So in those times you don’t know what to say to God, resort to something beyond words. 

In those moments we are not alone; The Spirit of God comes to our aid to coach us and coax us into what we “mean” beyond what we can’t express. 

Perhaps today all you can muster is a “groan” or a sigh in prayer. Maybe you just need to kneel and be still and quiet. Maybe you need to go out into the woods and shout! Well and good! God can leverage our wordless expressions and turn them into a genuine and complete appeal. We may not understand but he certainly does. 

Today, try praying without a word. Experiment. 

More from Beliefnet and our partners