Prayer: A Word I Need to Heed

"I try to remember that words do not matter to God as much as many of us suppose. They carry less weight than we think. 
Our culture seems infatuated by words. By the millions they stream from our radios, televisions, newspapers, internet sites, and yes, books. Drive through any metropolitan area, with its billboards, neon ads, and bannered signs, and you get the strange sensation of driving through a phone book or huge dictionary. Words seem essential. But much that is profound can happen in their absence. 
Rather than defining prayer as something solely expressed in words, I see it more fundamentally as being present to God. Sometimes words are eminently appropriate. Sometimes they get in the way. Often they simply don't matter. The important thing is to stand before God without our constant chatter, ready to be in heartfelt relationship with him. Where our whole selves are engaged in relationship with God, there prayer will be, even if words are not used."
- Timothy Jones, The Art of Prayer. pg. 23-24

My response: 
Words matter a great deal to me. Words are tools which enable understanding, communication, manipulation, transformation, and more. Reflecting on this I realize that words are, by and large, my specialty. I have no particular skills with my hands or my body and I lack technical expertise of every kind. As a child I told my parents that I wanted to be a politician, because they get paid to talk. Today I am a pastor, and though this vocation, this calling, is much more than 'getting paid to talk' it frequently relies on the proper use of language. And yet Jones is right; when it comes to prayer words fall away. My 'specialty' has, if I am honest, a way of coming between myself and God. It is humbling to see that I often come to God with ostensibly empty hands, never realizing that I grasp tightly to control through my mastery of language. It is freeing to see that this is utterly unnecessary. God does not need my words for understanding or transformation, and all the words in the world will not allow me to understand God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen. 

O Lord, the scripture says 'there is a time for silence and a time for speech.' Savior, teach me the silence of humility, the silence of wisdom, the silence of love, the silence of perfection, the silence that speaks without words, the silence of faith. Lord, teach me to silence my own heart that I may listen to hte gentle movement of the Holy Spirit within me and sense the depths which are of God.
- Frankfurt Prayer (quoted in The Art of Prayer pg. 44)

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