Not too long ago, my wife and I ventured deep into the land of Amazon, purchasing an Echo Dot and an Echo Show. We also bought programmable lightbulbs that we not only can adjust the brightness but also change the color simply with our voice.
Honestly, we thought the steepest part of the learning curve would be getting everything set up and connected to the internet. However, our real challenge came in learning to speak to "Alexa."
The first few days of interacting with our new gadgets were frustrating for us. Our requests were often met with "Hmmm. I'm sorry, I am having trouble understanding you."
As we struggled to articulate simple commands to "Alexa," here's what I realized. The way we are wired is the complete antithesis of what "Alexa" needs to respond effectively.
I'm an internal processor who tends to overthink things. When I finally have formulated my thoughts, it takes forever for me to verbalize them. And if forced to express things off the cuff, I end up using way more words than necessary. (Insert hearty "Amen" from my family).
Ultimately, we realized that we needed to determine what we wanted before speaking to our devices. And, we needed to be clear and concise. Oh yes, and to make sure we said "Alexa" first.
As I reflected on our communication challenges, my heart was suddenly filled with gratitude that when we pray, God never says, "I'm sorry, I am having trouble understanding you." And when we approach God, we don't have to have it all figured out before we pray. We don't even need tidy, pre-packaged little phrases to capture the Father's attention. Because we already have it. The One who knit us together in our mother's womb knows how we are formed. As God spoke to Jeremiah [1:5], He speaks to us, "Before I created you in the womb, 'I knew you.'"
Hear the good news, if you are floundering, struggling to express what is churning in your heart, God still hears you. "If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves..." [Romans 8:26-28 MSG].
I can testify that even in times of deep distress and burnout, when the most I could utter was a heart-heavy, "Oh, God," my experience was that of the Psalmist. "I waited patiently for the Lord, He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise unto our God" [Psalm 40:1-2].
Rest, beloved, in God's relentlessly intentional kindness, He promises, "I will provide for their needs before they ask, and I will help them while they are still asking for help" [Isaiah 65:24 NCV]. No matter how you are wired, no matter what you are going through, you are seen, you are heard, and you are loved.
"Rest, the Lord is there. Lift up your prayer, for He is strong.
Trust, He'll bring release and perfect peace will calm your mind.
There is no need for needless worry,
with such a Savior, you have no cause to ever doubt.
His perfect Word still reassures in any trial.
Call Him if you grow frightened.
Call Him, with loving care, He'll lift the burden
and you'll rest, the Lord is near.
Refuse to fear, enjoy His love.
Trust, His mighty power fills every hour of all your days."
(Phil McHugh and Greg Nelson)
If you are looking for another prayer prompt, I pray this original song, You Are the One, will equip you with a fresh vocabulary of faith.
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