know what to pray tonight, and I figure if I recite all the letters, God can put them in the order he wants them."
The confidence the little girl had, that God could sort out her letters of the alphabet and make real prayers out of them, is amazing! Even though she hadn't "said anything," she could go to bed confident that God had heard her and all was well.
The truth is much closer to this story than we may have thought. We really do have a heavenly Father who is much more anxious to hear our prayers than the grandmother was to hear the heart of her granddaughter expressed in words. God is all about relationship -- and prayer is, if nothing else, an expression of our relationship with him.
But when we are anxious, troubled, angry, or just unable to put our feelings into words, it feels hard to pray, doesn't it? The joy of it is, we are already taken care of by our Father, just like the little girl with her alphabet. God the Holy Spirit -- who is the spirit of fellowship, according to classic Christian theology -- lives in you and me (and is everywhere, influencing even those who don't believe). That same Spirit knows the mind of God, and knows us and what is best for us, helping us with our prayers, even when we have no idea what to pray. Let's read:
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children...And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will." (Romans 8:14-16, 26-27).
There are times when I don't know even what subjects to pray about, much less how to pray. Perhaps you have experienced that also. So should we just ignore the urge to talk to God about our troubles? Paul tells us here, that we can stop, seek a quiet place and just sit with our Father, letting the Holy Spirit carry the conversation for us. Our heavenly Father desires our presence more than our words, for he has all the words we need and more.
No matter what is troubling you, God is willing to hear it -- and by the Holy Spirit, is able to understand it even if you don't. Can you take your prayers to him, even if all you can do is recite the alphabet?