It's now been 9 months since my mom starting losing her speech. It is also roughly 10 weeks from she received her diagnosis - dreaded Motor Neurone Disease.
We are thankful to the Lord that apart from swallowing problems there are, for the present, no other additional major symptoms.
A friend of ours from France, in whose conversion my mom and late-dad, under God, were instrumental, popped over for 24 hours last weekend to visit her.
The most moving moment was when we prayed together in turn: with tears and emotions supraadded onto prayer, we could only just make out one final sob 'Amen!'
It has been fascinating to learn how she described her speech to Jack (our friend) - in her own ears, her words sound clear, even if she knows to us they seem indistinct.
After a little reflection on this prayer she offered up, I know that even if we did not understand one phrase, the Spirit knew her heart, the Father recognised her speech, and the Son needed no translation or other interpreter.
This struck me as non-exact, tender, personal, example of something contained in Paul's statement about the Spirit's intercessory work in groans and tears God hears.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God - Rom 8:26-27.
Scripture is full of comforting words about God's knowledge of our prayers: before a word is on our tongue, God's knowledge of our verbal expressions is complete (Psalm 139).
Surely the prophet is not speaking just of the eternal state, but of now and not yet (Isaiah 65:24), for before they call, God says, I will answer and appear (Isaiah 58:9).
David, in trouble, was confident of help, and prays in faith: "I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words" - Psalm 17:6.
In the end, it is the same Spirit of Christ, who agonised for us, who now prays within us: God most certainly answers both incoherent sobbing and articulate supplication!
I think it was Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the famous Baptist preacher in London, who rejoiced that his prayers went up to heaven "in the Revised Version"! So am I!
So, whether, tonight, you kneel at your bed in joy or pain, breathe in the Word, let out the cries, look to the LORD, draw near by blood - prayer will be heard!