Helen Keller lost her ability to hear and see at only nineteen months old. Eventually, her teacher Anne Sullivan helped young Helen learn to read Braille and raised type. By age nine she could also read people’s lips with her fingers and speak. Sullivan attempted to help Helen understand the word love. The teacher made several attempts to explain the concept, which only puzzled her pupil. Then one day Sullivan said that love was like sunshine—sweetness that pours into everything. That’s when Helen Keller first understood the word love.

Even for those of us who can see and hear, there are experiences in life we struggle to comprehend. Some of them and the emotions that come with them are buried so deeply in our consciousness that we’re scarcely aware of their existence, let alone able to describe them clearly. How then can we bring these hidden and often painful struggles to God?

Scripture gives us comfort in this struggle, reminding us that our prayers aren’t dependent on our ability to communicate clearly to God. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit with us in prayer. And the Spirit doesn’t simply listen to our prayers but actively “prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Romans 8:26). Similarly, in John 14 Jesus says that in the Holy Spirit we find a Helper who is our advocate to the Father (John 14:26).

Perhaps like me you often try to rely on your own abilities to pray effectively. We may try our best to pray well, which isn’t wrong in itself, but find our words woefully inadequate. But we can take great comfort in the realization that when our words fail and our strength falls short, the Holy Spirit searches our hearts and intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:27).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Daniel 2:1-24