It’s ok to be speechless in front of Jesus.

There is something disconcerting and something else peaceful about being still in thought and silent in word in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

But en route to the church, I think.

I have to spill my guts to Christ, I think.

I think I have to tell him something and wait for his response, or for a blanket of warmth if it’s cold out, or something, or an inexplicable breeze if it’s not (neither has ever happened, it’s just what I think of). That this time, my prayer should be intentional and uninterrupted. No distractions.

And so in the church, I kneel, and I greet Jesus, and then I remember an email or a deadline or my attitude problem. I rein in my thoughts. I greet Jesus again, and focus firmly on the tabernacle first. Then on the giant crucifix above it. Then on how much I could go for some bacon.

Come on, Arleen.

I greet Jesus. Again.

I want to say words, more words than the ones in my default opener.

Thank you, Lord…

…but I can’t think of any.

Which bothers part of me. The part that thinks I should be able to articulate a reason to be here, that I should gush, or at least communicate for more than a minute before my mind turns to how hungry I am or to whether I should wear my hair curly tomorrow. The part that thinks I have no excuse for this.

The other part of me knows that this speechlessness in front of Jesus is ok. That’s the part that recalls how many times I have been told not to talk as much as I listen. To make what distracts me part of my prayer. That the sacrifice of being there is prayer enough sometimes.

Again, I greet Jesus.

Sorry for the time(s) I was awake enough to watch four reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond but too tired to pray by the time I turned off the TV. Sorry for the time(s) I put the snooze button before you. For zoning out during the homily. For all my seeking first the other stuff.

I think, then, of all the other stuff.

Then I greet Jesus, again.

Do you struggle with prayer? Try God, Help Me: How to Grow In Prayer, a fabulous book by Jim Beckman. Click here to learn more about it or to order a copy.

A version of this post originally appeared on the blog in 2014.

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  • John Morgan

    “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for
    we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes
    with inexpressible groanings” Romans 8:26.