When the Words Don’t Come

“Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
Exodus 4:10, NRSV

This morning I was taking the dog out to collect the mail, and there was bright sunshine and a warm breeze on my skin. Rather than stopping at the mailbox, I wandered out on to the street, noticing the greenness of the leaves, and a few stunning rogue sunflowers growing in a drainage ditch. I noticed the roar of traffic and then a plane flew overhead–the first I’d heard in several days. I could hear the laughter of one neighbor’s children and music spilling out of our neighbor Chris’ kitchen window. Without even realizing it, I found myself thanking God for all this beauty and reassurance–a prayer of gratitude and thankfulness for all these small mercies.

So often, when I know I most need to, I find it most challenging to pray. I feel like the weight of everything means my words will be inadequate. They just don’t seem to be enough. And so I find these words of Moses–the man God used to lead the Israelites out of oppression–so reassuring. Moses turns to God and says, “I’m not very eloquent.” God’s response is kind and everything we’d expect. “I gave you your mouth; I will help you speak and teach you what to say.”

This morning, when words wouldn’t come to me in prayer, God taught me what to say to give thanks for all the good and beauty, the joy and laughter and the sunflowers growing in the ditch. It happened in its own sweet time and when I least expected it. If you’re struggling to find the words, God says to you what he says to Moses, “I love you, I created you and I will teach you what to say.”

The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Assistant for Liturgy, Outreach and Student Ministries