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Whispered Prayers


At night, in secret, I offer whispered prayers to God, or the universe or myself, or whatever is out there listening. I am not a religious person, I haven’t been in a church or synagogue in many years. Most of my friends are atheists or careless observers of some sort. I don’t talk much about praying; it seems both private and a bit embarrassing. Having said that, you might ask why I am writing about it in this public way? I’m not sure. 

Most times my whispered prayers are lists of the things in my life I am grateful for. Each night I name ten things. My daughter always tops the list, and I wonder if it’s OK to express gratitude for the same things night after night. Are there rules? No one taught me to pray. If there is someone or something out there I don’t think they are hearing the exact words I speak, it’s my intention that reaches them. The list is for me because it reminds me how abundant my life is. Recently I have been praying for things (I don’t mean stuff) for myself and though I feel selfish I persist.

I send prayers for people in trouble or pain and for friends who could use a little extra support. I ask the universe to hold them. I started praying several years ago. One night I was lying in bed crying and feeling completely lost. I had probably just read Eat, Pray, Love for the sixth time and something by Anne Lamott, and if they could pray, dammit, so could I. All I wanted was for the pain to stop, and that was what I prayed for night after night. I’m sure the pain would have stopped whether or not I prayed, it just gave me something to do instead of weep, and it became a habit.

Lots of people have talked and written about what a lousy year 2016 has been, and I concur. I got a head start on the crappiness of 2016, starting in September 2015, but I am calling 2016 done as of November 8th, 2016. A lot of what’s happening now scares me. I am not strong enough to pray alone for the United States, and the rest of the world but I know mine are joined by the prayers of many others. These are prayers we shouldn’t whisper, but shout from the rooftops as loud as we can. Prayer is also action. I am afraid of the world my daughter will inherit. We cannot pray the outcome away.

As the world spins out of control, and everything I believed about my country disintegrates, in my own small world I feel happy. I am filled with happiness and the possibility of things I thought impossible. Have my whispered prayers been answered? Who knows? Maybe they are just a ritual to help me fall asleep. I have no controls and variables. I understand my happiness today doesn’t guarantee happiness tomorrow or next week, but suddenly I am in the moment, present, and calm. Everything will be fine and for today I believe in the power of my whispered prayers.

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  • December 7, 2016 - 8:58 am

    Peggy Gilbey McMackin - A huge believer in the power of prayer, it seems that true gratitude gives us inner strength, as well as cognizance of those around us, a vehicle for accepting ourselves, and people as they are, lending a sense of peace and inner joy. My Grandson and I are currently reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I look at him, and his depth of understanding on how people connect and intertwine, feel so blessed and Thank God.ReplyCancel

    • December 7, 2016 - 10:18 am - What a great book to read with him. I loved that.

  • December 7, 2016 - 6:11 pm

    Nancy K. - “All I wanted was for the pain to stop, and that was what I prayed for night after night. I’m sure the pain would have stopped whether or not I prayed, it just gave me something to do instead of weep, and it became a habit.” — The turning point in your post resonated deeply. I’ve also felt lost since the election and you capture it in a quiet, reflective, way that leaves far more an impression than the vitriol I spew. Nicely written.

    There were a few places where I wanted an image. I want to know what your bed looks like during those prayers. Are your hands folded? Do you clutch the covers as you make these offerings?

    The ending ties up very nicely and connects both the prayers and the current state of affairs.ReplyCancel

  • December 8, 2016 - 11:21 am

    Ellen - I love the quiet calmness of this piece and how you are questioning prayer and almost trying to diminish its importance to you at the beginning. It feels like you are having a dialogue with yourself to justify this ritual, and I believe that in your last two sentences you answer your own questions beautifully.

    I do believe in the power of the prayer and that God gives us the answers we need and not necessarily what we want. And while I do believe in God, prayer does still confuse me sometimes. I haven’t worked out, though, why, when so many people were praying for a different result to the election, God seemingly thinks we needed this one.ReplyCancel

  • January 4, 2017 - 8:45 am

    Imaginary Conversations » Chefs Last Diet - […] in the middle of one of those imaginary conversations. Those unsaid words keep me up at night. My bedtime rituals, PZIZZ and the occasional Advil PM allow me to fall asleep, but anytime between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m I […]ReplyCancel

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