Shared Prayer


Louise had watched while I prayed. “Do you do that every night?” she asked. “What do you say?”

My classmates and I were staying overnight at Tanyllyn Lodge as part of our sixth-form geography field trip into the Welsh mountains. I was glad that my friend Louise and I were assigned to share a room.

It took us a while to get ready for bed. We took turns using the one tiny sink in the room, and the even tinier mirror. Our clothing for the next day had to be set out along with our hiking boots and thick socks. Louise finished her preparations before I did and climbed into her bed.

When I had finished doing everything except saying my prayers, I hesitated beside my bed. Louise was not a member of the Church and had no idea that I prayed each night.

My first instinct was to slip into bed as she had done and then feign sleep while I silently prayed. But I anticipated two big flaws with that decision. First, I knew Louise would start talking to me and I’d never make it through my prayer uninterrupted. Second, I was a little daunted by the next day’s grueling agenda and felt that I needed the comfort of a fervent prayer on my knees.

I dithered in indecision for a few minutes, then turned to Louise and told her I was going to say a prayer. She looked a bit startled, but before she could say anything, I went down on my knees at the end of the bed, bowed my head, closed my eyes, and offered a silent personal prayer. She was still watching me when I rose.

There was a rather awkward silence as I crawled into bed. As I furiously searched for something to say, Louise said, “Sian, do you do that every night?”

“Yes,” I replied.

There was a slight pause, then, “What do you say?”

The question surprised me. I had never really considered the possibility that someone would not know how to pray. I told Louise that I began my prayers by addressing our Father in Heaven, I thanked him for things I had received, asked him to help and bless me, and then closed my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

There was another pause, and during the silence I felt my heartbeat quicken. Before I lost my nerve, I asked her if she would like to pray with me.

“Okay,” she said, with curiosity in her voice. “What do we do?”

We knelt together by the side of the bed, and I said a prayer aloud. When it was over, I asked her how she felt.

She smiled shyly, “Well, you’ve given me something to think about,” she responded.

I don’t know what Louise’s thoughts were as we lay in our beds afterward. Mine were thoughts of gratitude. Lying there in the dark, I knew the Spirit had been in that room confirming to me that we do have a Heavenly Father who loves us and listens to our prayers. I hope that Louise felt it too.

[illustration] Illustrated by Bryan Lee Shaw