When I Had No Words

What Saint Patrick and the ancient Christians taught me.
When I Had No Words

I was raised on prayer. Some of my earliest memories are praying at bedtime with my mother at my side: "God bless my sister, my brother, my dad . . . " right down to the names of the gerbils in their cage.

In church and at mealtimes, we were taught to pray spontaneously. If you had to use a "canned prayer," you weren't trying hard enough. It was an unspoken, Talk to God from the heart—tell him what's on your mind.

I had plenty to say. So this kind of prayer life served me well. Until my late thirties, when the words evaporated. I'm a writer, and words are my stock-in-trade. I always had a good supply, both written and verbal. But when I tried to pray, I found I had no words.

With this new state of affairs came doubt. Did my prayers really do anything? Was anyone listening? So I stopped praying.

The weeks stretched into months. I moved from surprise, to frustration, and finally, to resigned acceptance. I felt a darkness, a void, in my life without prayer. So I went searching for it. Eventually, help came from an unexpected quarter: men and women who were several centuries old. The ancient Christians and their written prayers.

Meaningless Repetition?

It started simply. About the time I was unable to pray, we joined a church that regularly said The Lord's Prayer together. For me, it was an epiphany. Pray together? Out loud? I had no words myself, so why not? I had nothing to lose.

Every Sunday, I prayed The Lord's Prayer with my community—people I loved, those I disliked, men and women who were strangers to me. An odd thing happened. As I prayed in community, I discovered comfort in the fact I was praying at all. I felt a connection to those who prayed with me. And I felt a link to the roots of my faith, stretching back to those early disciples and Christians who prayed the same prayer two centuries ago.

Member access onlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, join now for free and get complete access.
orJoin Now for Free

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our free Marriage & Family newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter to help women grow their marriage and family relationships through biblical principles.

Contemplation; God's Voice; Intercession; Listening; Prayer
Today's Christian Woman, May , 2010
Posted May 1, 2010

Read These Next

Comments

Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

May 25

Follow Us

More Newsletters

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
RSS