When I lie in bed at night unable to sleep because of the intrusive thoughts that tool around in my head, I want to know that someone, something, hears me, but I’m always met with silence.

I’m not looking to be Julian of Norwich or Joan of Arc.

Help me pray

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When I lie in bed at night unable to sleep because of the intrusive thoughts that tool around in my head, I want to know that someone, something, hears me, but I’m always met with silence.

I’m not looking to be Julian of Norwich or Joan of Arc. I just want to feel less alone. I want to know that someone is listening.

Do you pray? What counts as a prayer? (Does it have to be out loud?) How will my prayers be heard among billions of voices?

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Megan Cuilla

About Megan Cuilla

Megan Cuilla is a self-proclaimed seeker who regularly asks the questions, “Who am I?” and, “Where do I belong?” She is currently exploring the reconciliation of her feminist beliefs with what she considers a complicated relationship with her body.

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  1. Hi Megan! Just wanted to say I know exactly how you feel. I have trouble sleeping most nights because my mind runs at a million miles an hour and it’s really hard to hear the Lord when your own voices are so loud and boisterous. I pray pretty consistently throughout the day and it’s not what most people consider conventional prayer. It most certainly doesn’t have to be out loud as most of my prayers occur in my head. I just talk to Him like another dude. Psalm 139:2 tells us that God sees our getting up and our laying down and He understands our thoughts from afar, so we are assured that God not only hears our words, but also our minds. The way I look at it, I don’t even need to address Him in my head, I just start talking to Him like He was right there expecting me to say something to Him. Though He really enjoys when you speak out loud to Him, it’s not a necessity. Prayer is merely conversation, not a ritualistic rite of passage for holiness. Though I have to say, God is quiet a lot of the time and it does seem like you’re talking to yourself after a while. But time and time again I’ve seen silent prayers answered in my life that would not have occurred had I not cried out to Him. So know He hears you, whether or not He talks back. Romans 8:26 says that even we don’t know how to pray, but the Spirit is praying for us with groans that cannot be expressed in words. I have never been so comforted before knowing that when I doubt God and don’t think that He’s even listening, that He is so good to us that He is praying to Himself on our behalf. So just talk to Him! He’s big enough to be able to hear all His children as if they were the only ones in the room. Hope this helps.

  2. Thanks, Eli. That’s really helpful.

    I never really learned how to say a prayer that’s just between God and me. The church in which I spent my formative years was big into “showy” prayers. The I’m-holier-because-I-pray-better-and-louder-than-you type of prayers. The more “amens” the better.

    You make it sound so simple. Maybe that’s what one of my roadblocks has been. I’m making it much more complicated than it needs to be.

    I talk to myself all the time. I might as well include God every once in awhile.

    What about others? How do you pray?

  3. Can you hear yourself? And are you listening to what you’re saying, really listening? That should be enough. All theological arguments aside (and you really don’t want to get started with this agnostic), if God is everywhere, then that should truly be enough.

  4. Megan,

    I have always had trouble focusing my mind on prayer. One of my professors suggested that a way to kind of jump start prayer is to read prayers for certain times of day. I have tried The Divine Hours and found this to be very helpful and meaningful.

    And I do so much better with journaling prayers instead of saying them.

    And yes, sometimes it feels like I am praying to some kind of void instead of praying to Someone, but I also know God speaks to me in other ways: the wisdom of others, a passage of scripture, a hymn, and especially in the beauty of creation.

  5. Anna Marie Martin

    Prayer is one of those sticky wickets that people really don’t know… There is no one, I think, who is truly an expert on prayer.

    This being said – if you have a relationship with god (God-Goddess-She Who Is-Eternal Spirit-Great Spirit etc.), then think of prayer as talking with god. Sometimes we communicate well in our relationships; sometimes we communicate poorly. Sometimes we are furious about a perceived slight, or injustice, and sometimes we are profoundly grateful for simple gifts.

    I come from a tradition where expository prayer (sort of “free thought expression”) just didn’t happen. Prayers were written in books, and decided by councils hundreds and hundreds of years ago – so one of my challenges has been when I want to say something like, “God! This really sucks! Fix that sh*t!”

    Sometimes I would say that to an actual person who broke something, for example, but most of the time I would not.

    I think stilling the mind and being in the moment is an excellent way to pray. I also really appreciate what others have commented as well. <3

  6. My best friend and her husband gave me a wonderful book called “Prayers for Healing: 365 Blessings, Poems, and Meditations from Around the World.”

    Here is today’s meditation:

    Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
    Go into the desert at night and look out at the stars.
    This practice should answer the question.

    The superior person settles her mind as the universe settles the stars in the sky.
    By connecting her mind with the subtle origin, she calms it.
    Once calmed, it naturally expands, and ultimately her mind becomes as vast and
    immeasurable as the night sky.

    – Lao-Tzu (translated by Brian Walker)

    It just seemed appropriate here.

  7. I literally said this same thing last night “I just need to know that there’s a thing and its not indifferent to me” I’ve started tip toeing into the goddess traditions of witchcraft to develop my I guess physical and verbal language for what this is.

    I’ve moved away from praying to an outside deity and instead starting to realize (for me) the physical and the spiritual are one thing and the goddess is within me and IS me and all the other creatures and all the other rather terrifying and confusing parts of the universe are her too. Tonight I just sang a chant called “the earth is my mother” and tried to allow myself to blue the boundaries between me and everything else. Sometimes I feel very polytheistic and I do rituals for/with specific deities (which to me are the languages we use to depict the “thing”). When I need a mother I talk to Demeter. When I need protection and wisdom (and help with magick) I talk to Hecate. When I’m feeling dark and guarded Or I need strength I tried a ritual for the Morrigan. I love the idea of not just one “God” but a pantheon of goddesses all there, all as voices and stories I can draw on. Like thousands of my sisters over my shoulder.

    Granted I’m still struggling with the same (literal) fear of nothing everyday. But the good “aha!” Moments are so so so so worth the struggle. And I think the struggle is lessening a little too 🙂

  8. Oh also! There’s a YouTube Channel called “KeepMusicPagan” that has tons and tons of songs if you’re looking to get a little “down to earth” with your prayers 🙂

  9. Molly, you need to drop what you’re doing and listen to this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdeMkywlS54

  10. Here’s my mediation/prayer. I do it daily and heard it from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). First, I decide the best part of my day or the previous day. Next I decide what I really really really want. Last I pick my mantra. I love it!

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