So many people have spoken to me about prayer as if prayer is something you have to get right: right words, right subjects, right structure, right timing, right frequency. Recently when I was describing to a colleague the struggle to speak French, and the grace with which my efforts were received in France, she noted that God receives our attempts to pray in the same generous, loving way.
I remember my daughter’s early efforts at talking and the joy they brought us. She was so obviously trying to imitate us. Once, when she was about a year old, my mother brought Laura downstairs after having given her a bath. I said, “Hi, clean girl!” Laura said it right back to me, minus the consonants but with the same intonation and enthusiasm. Talking was not something she had to “get right” or else we would frown on her.
How much more does God welcome God’s children when our hearts reach back to him, sometimes with words, sometimes without! “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).