How to Pray When Pain Leaves Us Speechless

How often do we experience pain that leaves us speechless? Too often, unfortunately. My dear friend, Carmen Horne, writes for us today. I pray her words bless you, for there are times we have no words of our own.

“Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking…”

Matthew 15:3 NLT

When you have no words and need to pray, find them in Out of Words

A few months after my mom died, I came down with an upper respiratory infection that included laryngitis. I wanted to speak, but I could only whisper. My doctor put me on voice rest. Communicating what I needed was difficult — for me and those around me.

My episode of laryngitis was preceded, by just a few months, with another assault on my voice. The day I heard mom’s oncologist say, “terminal, few months, hospice,” I was speechless.

Trauma and hurt have a way of quieting us. In my book, Out of Words: 31 Prayers of Hope for Your Hurting Heart, I speak of similarities between grief, pain, and losing our breath when we fall hard. Both of them make it difficult to talk.


How can we find words to articulate the un-imaginable pain we feel?  Even in prayer, or perhaps especially in prayer, we can feel out of words.

Hannah (1 Samuel 1:2 – 2:21) found herself in despair. She was living with infertility during a time when God’s favor equated to bearing children. Hannah could not explain her depression to her husband, Elkanah. Her words were the tears streaming down her cheeks.

Out of Words for when you have none of your own.

“I am a woman troubled in spirit…I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

1 Samuel 1:15 ESV

I’ve been where Hannah was. My pain wasn’t from infertility, but I hurt tremendously. My heart, laying in a pile as a puzzle spilled from its box, left me mute from pain. I couldn’t understand the why of it all.

Amid such heartache, how do we find our words again? May I share a few thoughts I wrestled out for myself?

Allow yourself time to grieve. With every loss, comes grief. We expect it when the loss is the life of our loved one. We struggle to allow ourselves to grieve when we have lost a job, a good friend has moved away, or we lose our breast to cancer. Permit yourself to feel the feels.

There are many stages to grief, and moving through those stages is a process worth walking.

Stay connected to God and your people. Broken hearts feel disconnected from life. The death of my grandfather was devastating to me. I remember thinking while sitting in the drive-thru at our bank — Do these people understand my Papaw D just died? They act as nothing has happened. Although I felt disconnected, my family and friends surrounded me with love.

The Bible assures us that when we are out of words, the Holy Spirit prays for us. (Romans 8:26-27) He keeps our connection to Him when we feel broken. Praying feels useless, but our tears are prayers, my friend. God keeps up with everyone. (Psalm 56:8)

Choosing to allow God to begin placing the pieces of our lives back together again begins our healing. Words may fail us now, but I declare based on God’s Word that He will put a new song in our hearts and His praise will be on our lips once again.

I’m so thankful for Carmen’s wise words. They recall for me this beautiful scripture:

And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are those who bring the good news!”

Romans 10:16 (ISV)

God, thank You for sending Carmen’s healing words to each one of us – they come from wisdom learned from You, O Master and King.

A little about Carmen:

Carmen Horne authors Out of Words - for when you have none of your own.

Carmen Horne is an author, Board Certified Advanced Christian Life Coach, and speaker who uses her gifts to encourage women. She is passionate about supporting women through life’s challenges as they learn to change their perspective on the unexpected. Her new book is Out of Words: 31 Prayers of Hope for Your Hurting Heart.

At the ripe old age of 16, the Bayou State native married her high-school sweetheart. They have one beautiful daughter. Carmen is a dark chocolate nibbler and beach sitter. But her favorite activities are those she participates in as a wife and mom.

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