Expressive Silence before the Lord

By Maggie Swofford, Marketing Assistant

Excerpt from and personal reflection on Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible by Charles H. Spurgeon

9781619707030“For real business at the mercy seat, give me a homemade prayer, a prayer that comes out of the deeps of my heart, not because I invented it, but because God the Holy Spirit put it there, and gave it such a living force that I could not help letting it come out. Though your words are broken, and your sentences are disconnected; if your desires are earnest, if they are like coals of juniper, burning with a vehement flame, God will not mind how they find expression. If you have no words, perhaps you will pray better without them. There are prayers that break the backs of words; they are too heavy for any human language to carry.”
Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible, Charles H. Spurgeon

There have been (and are) many times that I come before the Lord with little to no words to speak. I have in mind the few moments where all I could bring myself to do was kneel and put my face to the ground, arms outstretched, in expression of my absolute reliance in him. I always wondered what he thought of those times when I was so overwhelmed with anger, despair, sadness, reverence, or wonder that I could not speak. Of course, I never believed that he was disappointed or irritated by my wordlessness, but I always assumed that he enjoyed and desired to hear me vocalize what I was experiencing in my heart of hearts with words. Since the Lord is my friend, I assumed that he would want me to talk to him as though he were a close companion sitting right next to me.

Reading this passage from Spurgeon’s Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible, however, put a fresh lens on those moments of overwhelmed feeling. Spurgeon explains that in those instances of heavy, intense emotion or desire, words sometimes fall to the ground lifeless. I love when he writes, “There are prayers that break the backs of words; they are too heavy for any human language to carry.” In those moments, the sentences that come out of our mouths feel worthless or useless next to the raw passions that are writhing in our hearts. Spurgeon articulates that when it comes to prayers during those overpowering times, God appreciates when we come to him with genuine sentiments and supplications even if we have no words to verbally explain how we’re feeling. Our Lord would rather us come to him wordless and overcome with emotion than verbose and detached.

As we strive to grow closer to our Lord through prayer, let us not feel pressured to always fill our prayers with words. At the appropriate times, when we are overcome with emotions and unable to speak, may we take courage and feel relief knowing that God still hears our wordless silence.

“When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.”
Psalm 77:2-3 NLT, Everyday Matters Bible for Women

“I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”
Job 40:4-5 NLT,
Everyday Matters Bible for Women

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One thought on “Expressive Silence before the Lord

  1. Reblogged this on Hendrickson Publishers Blog and commented:

    On Good Friday, it is natural to find ourselves short for words while we take the time to dwell on Christ’s horrific death and incredible sacrifice for us. With this in mind, venture into the world of wordless prayer with this excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible and thoughtful reflection upon this powerful idea.

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