No More Words; More Than Words

Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart has turned to stone.

— Thomas Merton

In the last couple weeks or so, I have ran into a “problem” in my prayer life. I say “problem” because my first inclination is to try to fix it. But as I have learned in my journey through life, not all problems are fixable, especially spiritual ones. I have found that spiritual problems are usually when I run smack into a paradox, a condition where two things seem not to go together logically but do. There are no solving paradoxes; they are only door ways into deeper understanding.

My “problem” has been with words. I get these very strong urges to pray, but then there are no words to say. I sit there and no words come out to say to God. I am speechless. And then I get frustrated because it feels like my heart is closed when I want it to be open as far as possible to God. Darkness encroaches around me. I feel powerless as I stand on the edge of nothingness.

My heart is not really closed. I just desperately want to reach out to God. “Reach out” is a little bit of a misuse of the word because I know God is everywhere around me, in me. His presence is thick within my life. Maybe a better word is “communion” with God. My heart yearns for a deeper level of communion with God, and I have found that my words are no longer adequate.

When I first encountered this frustration with words, my own words in particular, I turned to more traditional prayers. I have always incorporated traditional prayers like the Our Father and Hail Mary into my prayers, but they seemed like the only words I had left for me to say. My own words felt empty and hollow, even when they came from my heart, dripping with emotions. Then eventually, the words of the traditional prayers started to feel dry too.

I did not want to pray anymore. But then again, I had this overwhelming urge to pray. Unfortunately, the words were not there. My own words seemed feeble and weak. The words from traditional prayers felt borrowed. I had nothing of myself to offer in prayer. I felt bankrupt, empty, helpless. Ironically, I did not feel distant from God. In fact, I felt closer than ever with Him.

I knew I had to persevere in prayer. I stuck with the traditional prayers, mixed occasionally with some of my own little words. I had heard that when you don’t feel like praying, that is probably the most important time to pray.

Somewhere in the midst of all the frustration, I had prayed to God for help, for understanding to why the words were no longer enough for prayer, and for guidance in what to do next. God answered me through a very dear friend.

The other day, my friend and I were talking after school. She wanted to share something with me that was very personal. She was a little nervous and did not have much confidence in the words she was trying to say. I could see that her words were coming from the heart. I felt honored and privileged to be there, that she trusted me enough to share something so special. There is a huge risk involved every time somebody exposes anything so deep from within their hearts. I wanted to make her feel as safe as possible.

As my friend talked, all I could do was smile and nod. I knew exactly what she was trying to say as she was saying it. I saw in between her words; I saw deep within the sacred ground of her heart. I was simply amazed and awed. No words were coming into my mind. There was nothing I could say. I was speechless. I did not even struggle to find words because I knew I would not find them. I got a little teary eyed and a lump rose up into my throat. I literally couldn’t talk. The power to use words was taken away from me.

In that moment of sharing, my friend opened her heart to me. I could see her love for me (as a friend in the noblest sense of the word), her love for God, her love for family and friends. There were no masks, no pretensions, no walls—only love—genuine, honest, authentic love. But that little four-letter word does not adequately describe what I saw. There was so much more. There was also a sense of peace within her heart even though she seemed frustrated on the outside as she struggled to express her feelings. And from that peace, I felt energized to love her more deeply, to love others more deeply, to love God more deeply.

As I reread what I have written so far, I am not sure if the words really do justice to what I am trying to convey. Again, a problem with words. The source of all love is from God. In a way, love is uncreated. How do words, things created from creatures, describe the Uncreated?

God, through my dear friend, has shown me the way to the next level of prayer, a level without words. There is nothing to fear by not using word. There is no real reason to be frustrated. Words, in a manner, can get in the way. The trick is to realize that I am powerless in all of this anyway. I just need to relax, open my heart, let God’s love flow through me to others around me, and to flow back to Him.

Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel

More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
Cause I’d already know

What would you do if my heart was torn in two
More than words to show you feel
That your love for me is real

What would you say if I took those words away
Then you couldn’t make things new
Just by saying I love you

More than words

Now I’ve tried to talk to you and make you understand
All you have to do is close your eyes
And just reach out your hands and touch me
Hold me close don’t ever let me go

More than words is all I ever needed you to show
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
Cause I’d already know

— lyrics to “More Than Words” by Extreme

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