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Fractured French and a Lesson About Prayer

Timothy Jones writes in “The Art of Prayer:”

We don't like to stand speechless or stammering before God, but that doesn't mean God holds it against us when we do.

I remember a vacation with my parents in France when I was in high school. I had just completed two years of French, hardly enough to make me fluent. Still, there we were, tourists wanting to make the most of our time. So when we needed a bathroom, when we wanted to find a café, or when I lost my eyeglasses on the steps of the L'Eglise du Sacré-Cœur, I falteringly used my butchered French. I was trying—to the politely suppressed laughter of others—to speak the language. But I remember more than the townspeople's bemusement. I remember how they warmly received my efforts. They strained to hear past my fractured sentences. They honored me by responding.

Is God any less generous?

He hears all that arises from us—the words of our mouth, the longings of our hearts, the thoughts of our minds, the intentions of our wills. Regret, grief, thanksgiving, hope—God hears our emotions, not just our grammar. Because of his grace, not our eloquence, we can pray. Even if we stammer.

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