I read about a family whose 6-year-old twin boys and 9-year-old daughter died while waiting for a bus. I started to pray for the family in their loss, but all I could do was cry. No words.
It’s not the first time. So often, the weight of the needs around me feels too much to put into prayer. Tragedy in our country. A tough diagnosis. A friend’s child’s struggles. My child’s struggles.
Recently, my own work felt overwhelming, and Jesus whispered to me to stop and pray. When I did, tears came instead.
But maybe that is prayer.
Because isn’t prayer about honesty? Isn’t it touching the heart of God? And doesn’t God weep with us?
Prayer is a conversation. He invites, we respond. We come, He listens. And in it, we bring our hearts.
Sometimes maybe the way we love best is not with words, but with emotion. We step into others’ reality. Allow their pain to become ours.
Or we step into our own reality. We allow our pain to show. We let ourselves feel. Our hearts come to the surface, and we let Jesus touch them. We let them be caught and held by the Savior.
After all, that’s what Jesus did. He stepped into our reality. He embraced our humanity. Allowed our pain to become His, to the point of death.
God Weeps with Us
And He does it day after day. He is not the God who stands at a distance., but the One who watches for the prodigal. When He sees him He scoops up His robes and goes running.
He is the God who bears witness to all the pain of the world, even that which others do not know. Closer than a heartbeat, He is El Roi, the God who sees.
He is the God who collects our tears in a bottle, who hears every sigh and sees every longing. What He hopes for from us, more than our words, is our hearts.
There is an aversion in our culture to enter pain. We stand at a distance and pray, but our prayer is more, “God may that never happen to me,” than, “God this is ours to bear together.”
Or, when the hurt is ours, the prayer is, “God make this go away so I don’t have to feel it” rather than “God here is my heart, please hold me in the midst of the battle.”
What Our Weeping Says
There is a difference between weeping from despair, and tears of honesty. The latter is brave-letting ourselves feel our humanity while we face reality before the One who alone can bring redemption of all that is broken.
So I’m learning to let tears be part of my prayer. When they are for others, they are tears that say, “I do not want to stand at a distance from this.” I want to stand alongside them, where Jesus is. Most likely, someday I will need someone else to cry prayers for me.
And when they are for myself, the tears say, “Thank you, Jesus, that you cherish my heart. You do not expect me to go through this alone, but invite me to give it all to you.” They are tears of relief, of surrender.
May we allow weeping to be part of how we communicate with God. May our tears be our prayer, an honest, dependent cry to the One who understands it all.