Christian Living Prayer

Pencil, or Permanent Marker?

A video devotional from Our Daily Bread talks about the purpose of prayer. The clip shares how an interviewer once asked Mother Teresa what she said to God when she prayed. The Catholic nun and missionary replied, “I do not say anything. I listen.” The bewildered reporter followed, “Well, what does God say to you?” The tiny woman ended the conversation with this: “God doesn’t say anything. He listens.”

For all the prayers I’ve thought or said, there have been times when words simply wouldn’t come. Listening was my best option.

I know… we should approach God’s throne with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). But acting with such bold consistency isn’t always easy. Some life situations can (and do) leave you speechless. Especially when you don’t see them coming. So what should you do when you’d rather not pray to God in all CAPS with a permanent marker?”

Lord, do You accept prayers in pencil?

I say He does. Penciled prayers are “listening” prayers, spoken with groans that words can’t express (Romans 8:26-27). Is this what Mother Teresa meant when she said, “I listen?”

Yet Jesus said when a person prays in faith what they ask for happens (Mark 11:22-24).

But must we chisel our prayers in stone?

Nope. I’m not a “stoner.”🥺There are plenty of times in the Bible when folks on the ground got it ALL wrong. God makes it clear that He doesn’t think or work the way we do (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pencil and eraser prayers are fine by me, thank you. I may need to edit.

The devotional also noted that Jesus often went off by himself to pray. He spent the whole night like this before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). I bet He did more listening than talking.

“Prayer is spending time with the One you love,” concluded the woman on the video. AMEN! Permanent marker or pencil –speaking or listening–it’s about quality time with the Father.

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 (NASB)

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

By davidsdailydose

I'm just a regular guy who was
tempted to lose all hope but did not. It was God who made the difference.

41 replies on “Pencil, or Permanent Marker?”

I love her wisdom. God knows the very desires and intents of our heart. There are times when I lay before the Lord and just say, “God, I don’t know how to pray for what I need, but I know I need you.”
Often times we forget that we’re children. Sure, on earth we may be adults, but to Him, we’re children. Imagine if your kid busted through the door all the time making demands with boldness. It happens sometimes. But my favorite times are when my son just crawls in my lap and leans up against me without saying anything. He just needs love and to know everything is going to be all right. Many times, that’s what prayer is. Like John, we just need to lay against the Lord and feel His love for us.
Thank God He allows us to be bold, to make mistakes and to even be still in His presence.

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Sometimes words get in the way of communication. Different times I have only thought about a person or situation, and God answered with comfort, or whatever was needed. I thank God that He is so sensitive about things; He doesn’t need us to say things out loud; He doesn’t need to answer out loud.

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Beth, your comment confirms that God put this post on my heart for good reason. The enemy is proficient at sowing doubt in our minds and hearts. I try my best to use such attacks as “jet fuel” to take me straight back to Jesus. I so appreciate your comment! Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!

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“Pencil and eraser prayers are fine by me, thank you. I may need to edit.” Wow David! Today’s post gave me some great personal insight & encouragement. You see I’ve always written my prayer journals using two mediums. The scriptures I’m praying are written with bold colorful pens while my own prayers are written pencil. I’ve never been able to bring myself to write my prayers in ink. The enemy has shot more than one arrow of doubt at me because of this. An arrow that said that I must lack faith if I write my prayers in pencil. Thanks to your post I finally understand why I journal like this. Ink declares with boldness the permanence, steadfastness, unwavering, and unerasable nature of God’s Word (Isaiah 40:8). The pencil offers the humble recognition that I’m but a human that needs to go back and edit my words. Many blessings to you today David.

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You are spot on David, I gave you a half answer looking back. Last night I stood in the dark outside and soaked in the starry sky awestruck by the immensity of the universe in my head and so much more by a God who can speak this immensity into being. At the same time that voice says “I care” in my heart. Who can explain but the fringes of that?

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I am grateful for your input, brother Alan. Your switchboard analogy is spot on! The Holy Spirit knows how to connect us with the Father, even when we do not.
Enjoy your afternoon and evening. Blessings to you as well.


Thank you for this reminder about the width and depth of prayer. The format of our prayers whether audible, written, sung, or even thought is unimportant to Him. It is important that we make frequent connection with our Father, for He loves us. It reminds me a bit of old fashioned phone switchboards where you dialed to call, but wouldn’t be able to connect until the switchboard operator put you through. Our prayers in any format have the quickest switchboard operator in the business, the Holy Spirit! May our Father give you a blessed weekend brother.

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Thank you, Betty. Listening prayers are certainly a mysterious thing. I don’t fully understand how it works, but simply waiting before God is all I can do at times. He doesn’t always speak loudly, but the Holy Spirit is always at work. Thank you for your thoughts. Blessings to you and Dan.

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Thank you, David. I never thought of praying without words. Seems like that would be very conducive to listening so as to hear God’s will for my life. Sounds very calming as well. This I will try! Enjoy your day.

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Hi David , great post.
When I became a new believer, my mentor gave me a copy of Our Daily Bread, which is such a helpful devotional.
Yes, so true. Like everyone else, God appreciates a good listener. ⚘🤗

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Me too, Manu. I’ve been keeping a prayer journal during Lent. It’s been a rewarding experience. Sometimes I am able to write down my thoughts to God more easily than saying them. I appreciate your input. God Bless.

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Good point, Jeff. Though I am not Catholic, I find great wisdom in the prayers of Saint Francis and Saint Ignatius. I need to check out the prayers off Martin Luther. The old Book of Common Prayer has some gems as well. Good idea: maybe someone else already prayed what I’m thinking. Thank you brother.

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When I’m not sure what exactly to pray for, I pray the Lord’s prayer very slowly and deliberately, visualizing the person/situation I am concerned about. Also, I recently got a copy of (Martin) Luther’s Prayers. It has many prayers for various situations. Maybe when I couldn’t find words, someone else already did.

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The communication that happens, between us and God (via the Holy Spirit), was my focus here, Gary. I don’t pretend to fully understand it, but the mysteries of God are often too deep for words. Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a blessed weekend.

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What a great way to put it David. I am such a pencil and eraser guy. I am learning how much can be communicated in silence. There is a whole new world to be discovered in silence that dissipates when clothed in the audible.

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Thank you, Pete. Yes, the videos come to my email in box every morning. As I recall, I signed up at the ODB website. The videos are usually about 3 minutes long and well done. Thanks for stopping by, Pastor. Blessings.🙏

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