The Heart in Prayer

Posted on 21st September 2020 under The Rectory Bulletin


Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

There are people in this world who seem to have a gift for putting their feelings into words, which tumble from their lips in a glittering stream. And then there’s the rest of us. You know what you are feeling, but it is hard to express. Or, worse, you are not entirely sure what it is you are feeling.

When Manton was considering this issue his mind went to those we find praying in the Old Testament, and he found some comfort:

It is not the loud noise of words which is best heard in heaven, but the fervent affectionate cries of the saints are those of the heart rather than of the tongue. Exod. 14:17, it is said, ‘Moses cried to the Lord.’ We do not read of the words he uttered; his cry was with the heart. There is a crying with the soul and with the heart to God: Ps. 10:17, ‘Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble.’ It is the desires God hears: Ps. 39:9, ‘Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee.’ The Lord needs not the tongue to be an interpreter between him and the hearts of his children. He that hears without ears can interpret prayers though not uttered by the tongue. Our desires are cries in the ears of the Lord of hosts. (Thomas Manton)

Our deepest prayers come from the heart, and not the tongue. Moses said of himself “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Slow of speech he may have been, but he was still heard. As we read later: “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11).

When you find yourself lost for words in prayer, do not be dismayed. Your heart can pray when your tongue cannot. Simply sit before God, and allow your feelings to speak for you.

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