Two recent experiences have reminded me that both prayer and worship can transcend language; they can be experienced and participated in through words we understand or equally in words that are foreign to us. The Spirit of prayer and worship is beyond language.
Spending 24 hours in the company of Sister Santusa, President of Methodist Women in Bolivia, was a joy and privilege and despite having no language in common I was able to join with her in prayer as the sincerity of her expression as she offered prayer meant an understanding of the language was not necessary. On a visit to Epworth she was delighted to be in Susanna’s kitchen and knew well the story of Susanna teaching her many children and of her powerful prayer life.
Similarly exploring worship through music at a recent District Day led to experiencing worship songs in many different languages, but again the sentiment and emotion of the music enabled worship even without necessarily understanding the words. The Spirit brings an understanding in our hearts.
Finding the words we want to say when we pray can sometimes seem hard – especially if the situations and concerns on our hearts seem to difficult or to emotional for words. Events this week such as the tragic killings in Nottingham or the loss of a migrant boat in Greek waters bring us to our knees yet we struggle to find the words to express our feelings to God.
The words of StF 522, written by Joy Webb, are very helpful at times like this:
I should like to speak to you, for I know you’re there!
Ev’ry time I try, I find it’s hard to make a prayer.
Could you see what I’m thinking and know that it’s a prayer?
Could you look into my heart and find you’re welcome there?
Could I bring you all my hopes and dreams, my moments of despair?
Could you take what I’m thinking and find that it’s a prayer? A prayer!
Lots of things I’d like to say, seem to disappear,
and I don’t feel sure that they’re the things you’d want to hear!
Could you see …
If I get it wrong sometimes, help me know you’re there,
listening to me patiently, and you want my prayer!
Could you see …
(StF 522 Words & music: © 1999, Stainer& Bell Ltd, 23 Gruneisen Road, London N3 1DZ)
Parent God, as we turn to you at times of distress and anger, thank you that you take us in your arms as a little child, absorbing our anger, feeling our tears and holding us tight until we are ready to move on again. We offer so many difficult situations to you, so many questions, so much hurt and sorrow but thank you that your love soothes our spirit and calms our soul.
Both with and without words we pray for your peace and your love to transform our world.