Prayer Begins When the Words End

Forward Day by Day, Psalm 62:1, Silence, Prayer

Forward Day by Day, Psalm 62:1, Silence, Prayer

Psalm 62:1. “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”

One Sunday, years ago, I knelt to pray before the liturgy began, as was my usual practice. I always had something to tell or ask God. This day, however, was different. I had no words. It wasn’t that I had nothing to say—I simply lacked words capable of expressing what was within me. After several failed attempts to say something to God, I was left waiting in silence.

In that stillness, I faced my own powerlessness and felt my needs more acutely. There was nothing I could say or do—I had reached the limits of my own self-sufficiency and discovered the starting place of prayer. Prayer begins when the words end.

The silence I felt that morning was not so much about the absence of my words as it was about God being present to me. The silence created a space and a place for God and me to both show up—an interior sanctuary of intimacy and vulnerability.

The words were gone; I had nothing to offer but myself. The silence revealed me to myself and held me before God. I was the expression of my prayer, and God was the response.

*Originally written for and published by Forward Day by Day.


  1. This truly speaks volumes to me….no pun intended. I have felt this way many times, but saw it as a failure on my part to say what I wanted to say. I never thought about God being in me. Thank you for making me see my failure in a whole different, and I must say, better light. I just need to be quiet and listen. Thanks, Father Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois, I’m so glad the meditation was helpful. Silence is much more about presence than just the absence of words or sound and, according to St. John of the, is God’s first language.

      God’s peace be with you,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So absolutely true! As always I love all your posts and love reading them when they arrive…for myself I have been rendered into the purest silence for more than a year, thus no blogs from me…and am nicely snuggled within it…Thank you…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Michael,

    Thank you for your letter. I love it that you are a Father, as I have had a hard time with many Catholics and have always believed we are not so different. I couldn’t agree more with this latest piece. I have written a song, many years ago about the power of the stillness.

    I have attached it here. Please use it at will without charge, but with giving credit to Annabella Wood as writer/singer.



  4. Thank you Annabella. I agree, we have more in common than we do things that divide us. I think silence and stillness are one of the ways of learning this. Prayer tends to unite even if doctrine divides. I’m afraid your attachment did not show up.

    God’s peace be with you,


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