Praying with no words and not praying at all.

I’ve been thinking a lot about speaking, writing and words this week. God has been teaching me a lot about discerning when words are needed or not. I’m not the best at staying silent; hence a blog! In fact, I find it extremely difficult to not say things at times. I don’t mean that I’m not a good listener, I guess I just like to have answers to everything and I like to put across my view.

Not anymore. Sometimes, when situations seem to demand that we say something, to say nothing at all is the better option. Less is more and all that… I especially think that this is the case when someone is facing a particularly difficult time.

In times like those, people often search for answers to their situations or problems. Working for a church and studying theology as well as being mentored by my vicar I know that this really is the case in the church context. People want answers. But sometimes, it’s not our place, as Christians to give them. In fact, in a lot of those situations, we don’t even know the answer. Yet we still try to give one.

We must stop. I must stop doing that.

I don’t mean that there is no place to give answers – it would be silly to suggest that. But the Bible tells us that we should be discerning and that sometimes means shutting up.

I read a book recently and there was a story of a priest who went around a hospital visiting the sick. He found his way to the bedside of a deep atheist. The man in the bed was very poorly so the priest decided to just hold his hand. Eventually the man woke up and said to the priest, ‘You know, you lot are good for something, at least’. With that, the priest smiled and continued to be with the man a while longer. Eventually he had to go. As he let the man’s hand go he said, ‘Now just remember, even though I’ve taken my hand away, God never takes his away’. At that, the man’s eyes flashed and he said, ‘See! You lot just can’t help yourselves, can you?!’

We need to be careful and discerning over when we speak and when we don’t. My experience over quite a long period of time now is that God actually can speak so powerfully through silence and a still small voice. There doesn’t need to be babbling prayer for the sake of words. There doesn’t always need to be a request list sent up to heaven for peace and protection and the myriad of other things we ask God for when we hear of a bad situation. Sometimes, all God wants us to hear is ‘Wow, that person’s situation is crap!’ or ‘God, I’ve just heard about so and so – I’m grieving with so and so right now’. Sometimes all God needs to hear is ‘Ah!’ He works through those sorts of prayers. He works through us sharing burdens. He works through tears.

Remember when Lazarus died, Jesus, being perfectly capable of raising him went to the graveside and wept. Surely that was Jesus’ own way of saying ‘This situation sucks, Dad’.

I need to be more like Jesus. Sometimes in prayer, less is more. And sometimes, silence is better than request lists.

That’s what God has taught me this week.

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @

  • Interesting perspective got me thinking. And sometime silence is all that is needed and when we go on talking up a storm we forget to listen. Great article blessings