How to Pray When You Don't Know How to Pray

Suffering comes in waves, I find, in multiples of two, six, ten, eighty. Never one at a time, trickling down the side of life. On Monday everything is fine, but it is Friday now and a boy has been killed and a friend is miscarrying and a family I love is fractured and another friend is in the hospital and a girl I know is afraid of some consequences and more friends faced the end of hoping all things and another friend is running away from those who are trying to love her. It's a tattering, shattering, clattering week. I cannot contain the sorrow, it falls out like a floor beneath us and overflows like a sea that drowns us. 

I am sitting on the back patio and I have just pressed end on my cell phone. What do you do when there is so much stuff of life crammed into fifteen minutes two-thousand miles apart? Where do you even start to pray?

I have learned this year to pray staccato prayers: help, thank you, please, I'm sorry, I worship. The Father has no need for the flowery sort of prayers, perfectly formed with pristine theology. Those sort of prayers are more for us than for Him. It is right and good to learn to pray (To the Father, through the Son, with the help of the Holy Spirit.), but at the end of it all, when our snot and tears mingle and the choking sadness is too much to bear, staccato prayers will do. He knows it all before we say a word. 

David said this, 

You yourself have recorded my wanderings.
Put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

If the sovereign God who has recorded our wanderings and gathered our tears in a bottle, kept track of them in his book, cannot handle our staccato prayers (Help. Thank you. Please. I'm sorry. I worship.), he is probably not the God of the Bible then, and instead a god I've made in my own image. God, the real God of the universe, can handle the smallest and shortest sufferings and the largest and longest. He has sent His Spirit in order to, "help us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings." 

If the Spirit himself, the God, intercedes with unspoken groanings, I think he can handle our staccato prayers. 


Thank you. 


I'm sorry. 

I worship.

I think you have most likely slammed up against suffering of your own this week because suffering never comes in small doses but in multiples of two, six, tens, and eighties, You're pressed up against some of these same people or the same people by degree, plus people of your own, maybe your own suffering. I'm praying now that we would be strong enough to be weak pray-ers, knowing the Spirit surrounds, above, below, around, within, making what is weak strong.