Where My Prayers Went


Where My Prayers Went


A friend asked me to pray for her.

She does not know

my most awful secret:

I do not know where my prayers went.


Maybe they are aloft in winds

that were never scooped up for review.

Prayers decades old—each launched with

anticipation’s faint acrid film upon my tongue.


“Prayer can move mountains,”

Sister Pauline told our second grade class.

So I spent my recesses and lunches praying

for almost an entire school year.


Well, nothing changed.

And those were my very best prayers,

I said them exactly as I was taught.

I do not know where those prayers went.


I kept praying. Later, I tried

new gods, old gods and made-up gods.

In Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew…

Alas, I do not know where those prayers went.


I prayed fervently for love

for decades. On pillows, onto sleeves, lapels and

into tissues and into every blackness that

that my desperate hope led me. Without question.


Maybe I was facing the wrong direction

or did not have the appropriate attire.

Finally, I stopped praying—because no god that I knew of

knew where my prayers went either.


Even if a deity appeared, it would take an eternity

to hear all my tearful requests.

Even if they all arrived today, sorted by topic

and arranged by urgency.


So, when someone asks me to pray for them,

I don’t.

It is the kindest thing that I can do.

Because I do not know where my prayers go.


I hope that one day

I’ll find all my prayers

caught in some trees or maybe

strewn on a beach like starfish after a storm.


I will gather them up

and hold onto them forever.

Because everyone wants to know

where their prayers went.



by terre spencer

About Terre Spencer

Terre writes accompanied by her two beloved parrots. A survivor of Catholic grade schools and eight years of nuns-as-teachers, she is a perfect example of a good plan gone wrong. The intended religious indoctrination failed. Then, the faithless doxy took the perfect grammar she learned and writes her own damnable opinions instead, sometimes breaking the sacrosanct rules of grammar along the way. Pure heresy and utterly unpredictable.


  1. Mason J Stewart says:

    My prayers went to the Creator! I’m spiritually connected. GOD, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

  2. Terre- I’m in love with your line about finding your prayers caught in some trees, or like starfish on a beach after a storm. How utterly beautiful. In my mind’s eye, I keep seeing the Tibetan prayer flags strung up all throughout the Himalayas….the winds carrying the prayers to wherever they’re headed. And the prayer wheels being spun by the devout who walk by them, sending those prayers spinning so they don’t stagnate. Everywhere we go, we see our intentions to be acknowledged by something larger than ourselves, expressed in myriad forms.
    I admire your courage to speak out loud your certainty it’s all been an exercise in futility for you…
    and I daresay this gorgeous, haunting poem is a prayer, too.
    And I know where it went…..
    I think you do, too.
    Much Love….

  3. Beautiful imagery … But perhaps we should ask a different question—not where our prayers go, but where they come from? I think Saint Paul says somewhere that the Spirit inspires in us a groan too deep for words. I like that idea.

    • Thank you, Paul. I am pretty certain that anyone with unanswered prayers knows all too well where they come from. I cannot imagine being able to dissociate from that searing pain, although I know that some are able to do so. Yes, that place is sometime pre-verbal, sometimes beyond words and sometimes utterly horrifying when captured in images and/or words.
      The “spirituality” that helps me with those places is Jungian psychology. That and gut bucket blues reach into those places with enough compassion to disarm my defenses. Which is another story altogether.

  4. Terre – such a poignant poem on prayer. Where do they go? Really. And for whom is the prayer offered? The one praying, or the one for whom prayer is offered? I don’t know sometimes. But I have come to believe that prayers are not so much about seeking answers as orienting ourselves toward the thing we seek. Thanks for sharing.

Speak Your Mind