too deep for words: when we feel broken and we don’t know how to pray

Oh, God, what do I even say?

This week I wrote and recorded an audio lesson on Romans 8. I read the verses of Romans 8 over and over, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart. I wanted to dig in deep to the promises Paul shares with us. I wanted to explore how the Holy Spirit, when we don’t even know how to pray, intercedes for us. And how Jesus, at the right hand of God, communicates to our Father each word our heart longs to say.

broken - Breathing Eden Romans 8 - prayWe are being fought for, cared for, when our pain, our fear, our worries, make it difficult for us to lift our heads.

We may long for God, but we sometimes don’t know how to pray to Him. We don’t know how to articulate what is truly going on in our heart, our life. Or, we may not even recognize what barriers might exist that make it difficult for us to connect with Him. Or, we don’t even believe He is here, listening.

We need the Holy Spirit to give us words, translate our heart-needs to our Father. It is so beautiful that this is exactly what He does.

But as much as I love this truth—even though it rocks me to my core that God loves us so much that He helps us in our need, I struggled to digest this. My heart was stuck on what Paul says in the very first verse:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

And I realized that, as much as I wanted to jump in and give a talk about the awesomeness of the Holy Spirit interceding for us, I had to wrestle with another truth:

It is a challenge to take in this completely crazy-amazing-beautiful truth: I deserve to be condemned but I am not.

The fact that the Holy Spirit intercedes for me is difficult for my brain, and especially my heart, to register.

It just doesn’t even sink in.

Broken and the women of Breathing Eden - prayer

And this made me think about Jacqueline.

Jacqueline - Breathing Eden - broken - prayTwenty-three years old, single, a child molestation victim. She is sent to a Christian counseling and treatment program yet doesn’t believe in God or that He can save her. She is convinced He can’t be real. After all, He didn’t save her—not once, not in all those years she was molested, in her own bed, as a child. God can’t be good, she thinks, if she apparently wasn’t loved enough by Him to be kept safe.

And it makes me think of Kate.

Kate - Breathing Eden - broken - prayForty-six years old. Angry and tormented and in pain. Kate is reeling from the violent death of a loved one, and she pushes back against God’s love. She is wounded and tormented by lies from the enemy about who she is, how she is not good enough, and that she is broken and unfixable. Kate cries out to God, feeling afraid and alone. She fears that God is not good, and that she is too broken to be loved.

These two women are fictional characters in the book Breathing Eden. But they represent real life people, real life situations. I wonder if one of these women in the book is you.

Because, what is most beautiful about these stories that seem so sad, so tragic, is that God speaks directly to the hearts of each of these women. They may doubt they know how to speak to God, or that God cares about them, or that He would ever respond. But He does.

The Holy Spirit translates our deepest prayers, our groanings too deep for words.

God gives us words.

And He speaks right back, in a language unique to us, words that are more than words—whispers of love that we are designed to understand.

That is so awesome.

God is so awesome.

My friend Dolly listened to my audio lesson on Romans 8: “Too Deep for Words: When We Don’t Know How to Pray,” and this is what she said:broken - Romans 8 - pray - Dolly LeeIn the audio lesson you will receive a teaching where I wrestle with the truth of how to pray when we just don’t know how. They are words for the broken, the ashamed, the wounded, the doubting. The are words for the sisters and the brothers who long to hear God’s voice but stumblefeel lost in how to hear, how to trust, how to let go.

I pray, as you listen to the lesson, that you are emboldened, awestruck by God’s love, encouraged.

broken - Romans 8 audio lesson - pray

I created this for you—a gift for the amazing friends who have purchased more than one copy of Breathing Eden—and I want to send it to you!

If you have purchased more than one copy,  just send me your Amazon receipt (to and let me know you bought a second copy. (If you’ve already emailed me let me know, I’ve got you covered! If you haven’t yet, send me your receipt.) I’ll be emailing out the audio lesson right away! (Here is a listing of all the gifts you get from pre-ordering.)

And I love this videoreminding us how, even though we may feel broken, the truth is that in Christ, we are whole. And God has a lot to say to us about that . . .

What is your biggest struggle, right now, in praying?

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  • Oh how I know this pain and anger and feeling of betrayal so well. At least I KNEW it. I was molested by my father as a child and the shaneoi carried was the driving force behind the decisions I made for most of my life. I’ve hurt people who love me because I didn’t know how to receive or give love properly. Thank God for the healing He brought when I finally cried out from my heart. It’s not easy, it’s not overnight, but God CAN bring complete healing from such a pain. Be encouraged ladies, we may have been a victim before but our God is VICTORIOUS!

  • I sometimes struggle to know what to pray. I want to completely trust God in all of my life. I want His will and His plans for me. This is what I’ve been praying for at least once a day recently.. Thank you for your encouragement. May we all learn how to pray together.

  • Thank you guys for sharing such heart filled testimonies. I am now seeking God’s face for heart like his , a closer relationship and his help to always be in the spirit.

  • Hello Jennifer all your stuff is so awesome.I have passed your website onto others to enjoy and be blessed.
    Please will you trust with me that my daughter who has been unemployed ffpt onths now gets a job soon.
    Shr h
    for 3 months and has 2 teenage sons to support.

  • I too struggle mightily believing I am worthy of God’s precious gift of grace. In my head I acknowledge that it is because of Jesus that we are forgiven, not that we are worthy but that He is, and in my heart I still struggle. As a survivor of two generations of abusers it took until I was in my 50s to realize I wasn’t insane or “less than.” In my prayers talking to God I know I’m loved but in the world I will always feel alone and anxious.

    • Dear Diane,

      It is so hard to not feel stuck, particularly when it comes to generational sin. What is beautiful is that our Father continues to restore us to Himself–until we are completely healed. He is not satisfied with “partway.” He is all in. So trust that He is continuing to pursue you and that greater healing is what He has for you!

      Getting help from community is huge. Have you shared your story with a friend or with a prayer team at church? My deepest healing has been through people I trust praying with me, face to face.

      Praying for more healing, complete restoration, dear one!

  • Jennifer, all of your emails, devotionals, and blogs represent your heart and love for the Lord. You represent the passion to serve Him by reaching out so many women in diligence, regardless of the busyness of this world . I personally , appreciate your loyalty to us, to the community who are looking forward to recieve your emails. You are such a blessing to us! I pray that the Lord continues increasing your territory both personally and ministry wise!
    In His love, Malvina

  • This is beautiful Jennifer, and I am so excited about Breathing Eden! When I came to Jesus 12 years ago, I was a broken, battered, beat down mess! I trusted nobody, and thought God could never love anyone like me. I have come a long way in these 12 years, but I still have those days where I allow the enemy to rent space in my mind, and believe him when he tells me that God has not truly forgiven me for ALL my sins. I. Know. Better. And that is the moment I take those thoughts captive, and give them to God! Thank you for all you do! I love your emails, and on those days that it feels like it was written just for me, is incredible! ❤

    • Hi Rachelle,

      Yes, I know those days–those days of knowing, in my mind, what is true, but my heart rebelling, refusing to believe it. I am so encouraged by your story of God pursuing you–and how you know Him and cling to Him! Bless you, sister!

  • Jennifer, right now I feel I need to be counseled, how can I help others when I cannot even help myself? There is no point in God telling me to move forward when the pain is too deep. My father was a vicious monster, he raped 4 of my sisters as well, and when my mother found out she put a stop to it. One woman was not enough for my father., until one day it came to a point when my mother told my dad to move out she could not live with him anymore. I am not refusing to do what God has asked of me, but I need to be sorted out first., and only then will I be able to move forward.

    • Theresa, oh, girl, I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry this happened to you! And to your family. May God continue to stay close, wrapping His arms around you, bringing healing and hope to your heart.

      Yes, 100% to counseling. That is so good. So important. We aren’t made to dig in deep on our own. I am praying now for connection with a counselor that knows and loves God and connects with you–for wisdom and kindness and patience and endurance as you meet together and you do the hard and beautiful work of trusting that our God is here, working to bring complete restoration to your heart.

      Please keep in touch, Theresa.



      • Dear Theresa,
        When wounded and brokenness freezes our journey, running to the arms of our maker through a unique ministry, Healing Hearts, and take The Hem of His Garment study, restoration is possible. Please check into finding a class.
        Praying for you,

  • Do I see. Myself in the stories? Oh how to hold back the tears. My past torturous to the point. I split letting others control my body. I’m so lost in a tangled mess I don’t know if God is going to help me untangle it. I’m so confused and frustrated.

    • Dear Denise,

      You are so loved, dear one. In the tangled place, in the darkness where you feel you are lost and alone and forgotten, you are not lost; you are not alone; you are not forgotten. You are held. You are adored. You are seen and you are found and never forgotten by the God who made you, shaped you–continues to love you and desire you and want you to know, even more, what He has for you.

      Praying now for community–a friend with whom you can meet face to face and share your story and receive help in giving this burden to God. Love you, sister. I am continuing to pray. For our Father has healing for you.

  • Hi jennifer,wow i trust in God so much .just yesterday I was praying to him about my daughter to keep her safe,because I know he loves her very much and all his girls that have been dishonored by a relative or other .she was by her father between 2-10years old I didn’t know cus I was trusting in him because he was a JW…..but when I found out I threw him out and press charges and he did time. and i move on with my daughters .she’s a smart girl she did 20yrs in the air force became a master sergeant it been almost a year that she’s been out and struggling along with her 5 year son unable to get a job short on money,but she refuses to move back home and making bad choices of work because she says she can’t get a job my other daughter and (me her mom )want her home we want to help her give her support and show her how much we care and love her.she makes no sense when we have phone conversations.please Jennifer help with your prayers,every body prayers for her safely. Thank you
    PS: I got dishonored by two siblings as a child from 2-11 finally told my mom but she didn’t do nothing but my question is did i get punished ? That’s why it happened to my daughters I keep thinking about (what ever
    you sow is what you’ll reap )so doses that pretain to me? Jennifer,,,please give me a answer.

  • It’s amazing to read the story, I remember going through depression and I almost took my life, I started to belive the lies that I wasn’t save, that ididn’t receive the free gift of salvation, how can God love me, after all the pain and disappointed I have cause me, who am I thate he wants to love and accept into his family. Read Romans 8:1 and others verse got me through those darks days. It’s so real reading those stories, seeing how the devil will feEd’s us lies, if we choice to believe him. I thank God for his love, the help from the Holy Spirit and Christ alway be there for me. He is my rock and fortress.