Prayers on My Pillow: Inspiration for Girls on the Threshold of Change


Inspiration for Girls on the Threshold of Change

"Before I go to sleep each night Before I turn off every light Let me put away my fears Let me brush away the tears"

The heartfelt prayers in this luminous volume were originally written for the comfort and inspiration of a twelve-year-old girl named Julia. The author of these prayers is Julia's mother, who wrote them because she was troubled that she and her daughter no longer talked as much as they used to. So each night, she ...

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Prayers on My Pillow: Inspiration for Girls on the Threshold of Change

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Inspiration for Girls on the Threshold of Change

"Before I go to sleep each night Before I turn off every light Let me put away my fears Let me brush away the tears"

The heartfelt prayers in this luminous volume were originally written for the comfort and inspiration of a twelve-year-old girl named Julia. The author of these prayers is Julia's mother, who wrote them because she was troubled that she and her daughter no longer talked as much as they used to. So each night, she left a verse on Julia's pillow. Julia shared them with her younger sister and with her friends, and the prayers moved outward in ever-widening circles.

Now everyone can enjoy and meditate upon these simple supplications, whose words, feelings, and perspective are those of a girl growing into womanhood. Nearly one hundred and fifty prayers encourage girls to look inward for the strength to heal hurts, calm fears, and reconcile with family and friends. They present the values of self-reliance and confidence, celebrating the gift of life and the unique pleasure and challenges of being a girl. Each prayer is a loving act of faith, and together they provide a safe and private space in which a girl can simply be and grow.

A compilation of nondenominational prayers loosely organized into fifteen sections or categories addressing specific issues or problems of teenage girls.

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Editorial Reviews

Paula Zahn
Have you ever thought your daughter doesn't have a prayer of making it through adolescence? Now she does. Prayers on My Pillow offers the strength and encouragement of a heart-to-heart talk without being judgmental or preachy. I know as my own daughter grows older,Prayers on My Pillow will be on her pillow.
CBS News
Marci Shimoff
These deeply personal and moving prayers will open the heart of every reader to her inner beauty and limitless potential. Prayers on My Pillow builds a bridge between a girl's dreams and the confidence and faith it takes to make them come true. This book should be on the pillow of every girl who is experiencing the joys and pain of adolescence.
Elayne Bennett
Prayers on My Pillow is a lovely collection of heartwarming prayers that will inspire and comfort young girls as they struggle with growing up in our society today. We at Best Friends will use this book as a valuable resource in our program with adolescent girls. Parents and teachers everywhere should be grateful to Celia Straus.
Best Friends Foundation
Marilyn H. Gaston
As a parent and pediatrician, Prayers on My Pillow will be an inspiration for young people. I congratulate the author for her insight on the need for this book and I thank her for the gift she has given to us all.
Jeanette Lisefski
I was struck by the great insight and love in Prayers on My Pillow. What a lovely boost of inspiration and confidence for any daughter, and a valuable tool for any mother to express the lessons she wishes to teach, which are often hard to put into words. I plan to share these prayers with my own daughter.
Berard L. Marthaler
Celia Straus's new book reminds me of how much prayers are like stepping stones. They help us pass from the present to the future, from who we are to what we want to be. They bridge the mysterious gulf between our innermost selves and Transcendence. Prayers on My Pillow also bridges the present and the past, reminding many of us of the worries and fears, the aspirations and hopes that we had as adolescents. For the young, Celia Straus's prayers are petitions. For the elderly, points for meditation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345426734
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/5/1999
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.69 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Celia Straus is an award-winning writer for print, film and video.  Her awards include eight Cine Golden Eagles, six Tellys, three Ohio State Awards for Excellence in Children's Television and numerous other awards.  She is a graduate of Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, and earned an M.A. in English literature from Georgetown University.  She has taught English and drama to high school and college students.  She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two daughters.
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Read an Excerpt


Why I Wrote the Prayers

Why the Prayers Have Meant So Much to Me, by Julia Straus

The Courage to Be Myself

Brave Beginnings

Looking in the Mirror

Confusion and Fear

Finding Beauty in My World

The Pain of Growing Up

Pressures in School


God's Love

Getting Along with Family and Friends

My Blessings

Asking for Help

Fearless Faith

Living in the Moment

Making a Difference

When I'm Alone

Prayers for My Self

Prayers on My Pillow was written for my older daughter, Julia. I started writing the prayers in the fall of 1995, when, at age twelve,
Julia began experiencing many of the physical and emotional changes of young adolescence. A brave, happy, independent, and outgoing girl was fast becoming vulnerable, confused, and withdrawn right before my eyes. At the same time, as a self-employed writer for television, I was carrying a heavy workload. It seemed that, as the days went by, there was less and less time to talk with Julia, and more and more need to do so.

There also seemed to be new barriers to overcome every time we did talk.
Suddenly my previously valued and much sought after opinions,
observations, witticisms, and advice were off-base, outdated, and boring.
Suddenly I wasn't listening properly, was hopelessly "out of it," or
"didn't understand." And Julia, who up until now had been forthcoming and honest about what she was feeling, began responding to my inquiries with a
"whatever" or a silent shrug of the shoulders.

We'd had a tough summer. Julia had found few friends to hang out with at the beach, so she had spent most of her time alone. Then she and I were in a frightening car accident in which the car was totaled, though neither of us was hurt. We both realized our mortality at the same moment, and the realization stayed with us. I think we also both realized that our relationship, built on communication that was continual and close, one that had nurtured and supported Julia throughout her young life, was changing. The connections between us were breaking down. Even more important, the connections within Julia herself were breaking down.
Because of numerous factors including age, sex, society, school, and the accelerated pace of life in the nineties, Julia's sense of self, her very essence, was threatened.

As I think back, it was Julia who asked me to write the first prayer.
We're not a particularly religious family. I'm Christian, brought up Episcopalian, and my husband is Jewish. Like many interfaith couples who marry and have children, we dealt with our religious differences by pretty much avoiding the topic entirely. Not going to church or synagogue.
Celebrations of Christmas and Passover focused on secular rituals and family traditions, and observance of Easter, Yom Kippur, or Rosh Hashanah was nonexistent.

I had taught Julia and her younger sister, Emily, one bedtime prayer--the only one I ever prayed when I was a child. It's from a 1920 children's book called TThe Bam Bam Clock, by J. P. McEvoy. It goes like this:

Bless me, God, the long night through,
And bless my mommy and daddy, too,
And everyone who needs Your care,
Make tomorrow bright and fair,
And thank You, God, I humbly pray,
For all You did for me today.

It did the job for ten years. But during that busy, tumultuous autumn,
when I was preoccupied with work and Julia's troubles were mounting, she asked me to write her a new one. One that might help her go to sleep instead of staying up until one or two in the morning worrying about . . .
well, everything.

And so I did. The next day I wrote a prayer, in verse. I'm not a scholar of religion or a person "of the cloth." I believe in an Infinite Being whom I call God, an afterlife, and the power of prayer. I'm not a poet. I write television dramas, documentaries, and educational videos.
Occasionally, I've worked on a novel. But I do know the profound difference between writing from the head and writing from the heart. This first prayer and all the hundreds after it came from the heart. And that night I put the first prayer on Julia's pillow.

Each day thereafter, whether we had had a chance to talk or not, I wrote a prayer for her to pray before she went to bed. Sometimes we read them together, sometimes she read them by herself, sometimes we talked about them. And I learned how important they were to her when, one night when I didn't write one, she asked me where her prayer was. I was careful to write the prayers in the words and voice that she might have chosen for herself. Some were tools to help her handle crises in her life; others were written as celebrations of her victories. Some were meditations on life cycles and the importance

of acting in faith and love; others were more lighthearted and emphasized perspective and balance in order to get beyond the intense self-absorption of her adolescence.

I wrote the prayers having been deeply impressed by Mary Pipher's
Reviving Ophelia and Peggy Orenstein's School Girls, books that stressed the need for parents to maintain connections with daughters during the early years of adolescence. I was also inspired by Larry Dossey's book Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine, all of Max Freedom Long's books about Huna, especially Growing into Light, Enid Hoffman's Huna, a Beginner's Guide, Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul, and the writings of Reverend Sandra Mayo.

The prayers are nondenominational and are based on a very basic three-part concept. First, they acknowledge the existence of an Infinite Deity or Absolute Being, who is addressed as either God or Lord. Second, they look at life from the perspective of the girl who is praying. And third, they acknowledge and respect the girl's inner self, or soul. Each prayer then connects and integrates the three. The process is simple and powerful. In the three-part concept there is a replacement of negative feelings or thoughts with a positive act of faith.

No matter what life issue a prayer addresses---a problem to be solved, an anticipated challenge, gratitude, celebration, awareness of the beauty of nature, despair, loneliness, boredom--the process is the same. An experience or perception of a young teenage girl along with her ensuing emotions is recognized and then put into the context of, or sandwiched between, Inner Self and God.

Within that loving and secure framework, the prayers gently remind the reader of what she is capable. They present truths and values she can trust and rely on, such as fearless faith, love, self-reliance,
self-empowerment, and ethical behavior. Many also express the benefits of courage, generosity, humor, creativity, and risk taking.

The prayers are not guilt-based. The word guilt is never used. Neither are they requests for what most people pray for--world peace, good health,
better grades, career success, or material goods. The prayers are not whiny or self-pitying. They encourage girls to look inward rather than outward for the strength to solve their problems. As a result, they help girls discover and tap their inner strengths to cope with changes.

The prayers are written in verse rather than prose, not because they are poems, but simply because that makes them easier to remember. They are practical, hands-on tools, like a makeup brush or a hammer, except they are tools of the spirit. They are to be used as very private, very personal, and very loving Acts of Faith. They work magic because they tap into our own spiritual energy, which is as real and powerful as gravity and exists in all of us whether we acknowledge it or not.

The prayers are loosely organized into sixteen sections or categories addressing different reasons for girls to pray. There's a prayer on each page because both Julia and I found that praying one new prayer each night was more than enough to think about. Not all prayers will prove useful to every reader. However, certain ones will strike an instant chord and become favorites. And a few of those can become crucial for handling day-to-day events.

Each prayer--or, for that matter, any word or combination of words within each prayer--can be used as a mantra, affirmation, meditation, thought,
chant, song, or daily reminder, either expressed out loud or not. The prayers are completely flexible. They can and should be copied out and personalized by the girls who read them. They can and should be wadded up into small squares and kept in a wallet, backpack, jewelry box, notebook,
diary, or locket. There is space in this book to write new prayers tailored to meet the different and new needs of each reader.

I believe the prayers have made a positive difference for both Julia and Emily. One indication is that both girls agreed to share these deeply personal prayers with other girls. I would like to think that this demonstration of their glorious inner strength and generosity of spirit was enhanced by my efforts, but then I can hardly be objective about my daughters. I am, however, deeply grateful for their existence and the opportunity I have been given by God to write prayers for them--and you.

--Celia Straus

I surround myself with toys at night Just like a little child,
And yet my dreams are different now With yearnings to be wild.

I pray to keep these two selves safe Each night before I sleep--
The child in me protected by The grown-up I'll soon meet.

It's hard to close my eyes sometimes When deepest needs collide,
The search for self continues strong--
It pulls me like the tide.

Put prayers on my pillow, please,
So I can tread the night And wake up as the girl I am To greet, with joy, the light.

Where can I run When there's no homeplace left?
Where can I hide When my parents "know best"?
Who can I turn to When friends turn me down?
Who can I trust When there's no one around?
What can I say When the worst has been said?
What can I feel When my feelings are dead?
How can I cry When God's love is right here,
Telling me, "Love,
You have nothing to fear"?

Today I woke up empty,
My soul completely flown--
As if my self had lost its way,
My song had lost its tone.

Today I woke up numbed inside,
My feelings paralyzed--
As if my mind had given up The light inside my eyes.

Today I woke dead-ended,
With no place else to go--
As if my life had come full stop With nothing left to know.

Today I woke no little girl But someone not yet here--
As if I'd lost the faith to grow In God instead of fear.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2001

    A very insporational book!!!

    This was an awsome book that helped me get through life a little easier

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2001

    Keeping the Faith through tough times.

    I purchased this book for my 11 year old daughter and myself. We adore it! I have begun to write prayers for my child using those in the book as a stepping stone. Even if you think you have a great relationship with your child, this is a great way to keep those lines of communincation open and to help us understand the power of faith in God.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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