The languages that God speaks

Paulo Coelho

A Spanish missionary was visiting an island when he came across three Aztec priests.

“How do you pray?” asked the priest.

“We have only one prayer, ” answered one of the Aztecs. “We say: “God, You are three, we are three. Have mercy on us.”

“Beautiful prayer,” said the missionary. “But it is not exactly the prayer that God hears. I shall teach you a much better one.”

The priest taught them a Catholic prayer and went on his way to spread the Gospel among others. Years later, on the ship taking him back to Spain, he stopped at that island once more. From the deck he saw the three holy men on the beach – and waved farewell to them.

At that moment the three began to walk on the water towards him.

“Father! Father!” shouted one of them, approaching the ship. “Teach us again the prayer that God hears, because we can’t remember it!”

“It doesn’t matter,” said the missionary, seeing the miracle. And he asked God to forgive him for not understanding before that He spoke all languages.

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  1. Reason says:

    Catholicism is one of the most destructive of all Abrahamic religions. All of you will live in Sheol. Whether you like it or not.

    To be closer to your “God”, one must study the Tanakh. Yahweh is dead. Your lives mean nothing. This false story sucks the devils dick and you all know it.

    In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi Excelsi!

    – Filius Hominis

  2. Davut says:

    There is only one God and he create and understand everything and everybody,,,nice topic and thanks

  3. nikamarie says:

    This has always been my favorite!!! :)

  4. Marie says:

    Thelma, merci de votre commentaire. Je suis absolument d’accord…l’amour est la langue de l’Univers.

    Pour répondre í  Savita, depuis que le monde est monde, il y a toujours eu des personnes avides de pouvoir, d’argent, de reconnaissance…c’est dans la nature humaine, míªme si cela ne nous fait guère plaisir d’en prendre conscience et míªme si tout le monde ne fonctionne pas comme cela.

    Quant í  la paix, sa valeur prend sa mesure í  la douleur de la guerre. Ainsi, les énergies misent pour préserver la paix sont égales í  celles pour faire la guerre. C’est pourquoi, il me semble très important d’avoir ce rapport de force í  l’esprit car cela commence dans notre vie personnelle.

  5. Mari Ann says:

    I said the same thing to the bishop. Without reading it in one of your books first… :-) Some of us know this from intuition and education, I guess.

  6. Abigale says:

    I think God created different languages to teach us.
    People are fixed on the differences they find within eachother-
    God wants us to find the similarity we all share, the language of the heart and soul. The form of communication given to us by God. He sees what is in our hearts, thats why no one else but Him can judge, and he is the closest person to you beacause he communicated with our soul.

  7. THELMA says:

    The people that are nearest to God are not necessarily the most educated! We see Him with our pure Hearts and Minds.
    Those holy men were already with Him in spirit, able to perform miracles..
    He is in us and we are in HIM. In silence we sense Him and LOVE is the language of the Universe!

    1. anishmathew says:


    2. anishmathew says:

      God really does listen to the heart. Doesn’t matter the language

  8. T.K. says:

    When I watched the documentary by Michael Moore 9/11, there was a scene with an arab woman crying out in prayer for her deceased loved ones who had been killed. She was speaking in her native language, and the translation was at the bottom of the screen. The scene was very powerful. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but her tears and her wailing plea was enough to let me know she was in distress.

    As a christian, I thought to myself, about God hearing her plea. I stopped questioning whether or not God heard her prayer based off of how she addressed God (allah). Alot of Christians have issues with this. However, when I heard her cry, I couldn’t imagine God ignoring her.

    I think that God really does listen to the heart. Doesn’t matter the language or even what you address him as. I think its the heart that speaks. Alot of christians would stone me for believing this, but I can’t imagining a God of love, compassion and mercy ignoring a plea straight from the heart.

  9. marja says:

    Love it Thanks for sharing

  10. Carla says:

    The Spanish missionary kind of represents the Ego, I, me, mine is right and not yours. It’s good he saw that his prayer is not everyone’s prayer. That what helps him is not what helps others but everyone has their own prayers.

  11. carmen says:

    Dios es aquí­ y ahora.

  12. Irina Black says:

    Wordless prayer I go for,as “a thought once uttered is untrue.”(Fyodor Tyutchev)

  13. Savita Vega says:

    Each year, my daughter and I undertake a new subject to learn about in our spare time. Last year, it was evolution; this year, we decided to learn more about the culture and history of the Natives peoples who inhabited the Americas before the European invasion. Next week, for her birthday, we are planning a trip to a local reservation to learn more about the Alabama-Coushatta tribe. Yesterday, in preparation for our trip, I was reading to her the sad history of the abuses these people have suffered over the past few centuries. First, they were driven off of their native soil in Alabama and Mississippi (with much loss of life) and made to undertake a long and perilous journey all the way to Texas. Then, the government promised them land, but never actually allotted it to them. When they finally did get a grant of land (which was a rediculous proposal considering the fact that all the land was theirs to begin with), the white people overran their land and took it, again by force, killing many members of the tribe. Finally, the government issued a decree that they were not to be disturbed or harassed and further, and they were allowed to live in relative peace. However, the land that they were left with was of such poor quality that it would support neither crops nor livestock. They were left to forage the forest for whatever nourishment they could find, and because the government passed a law declaring that they could only hunt wild game in certain seasons, they were frequently without meat to eat. They had no schools, no medical care, no easy access to clean drinking water. As a result of these hardships, over half of them died of famine and disease. It wasn’t until very recently, in the latter half of the 20th century, that they were allowed to establish a tribal council and begin to govern themselves.

    When I read this history to my daughter, she scrunched up her face, squinted her eyes and shook her fist in the air in anger. “Why, Mama? Why did they do this to these people?!” When I explained to her that this act of genocide was like any other war or invasion – all about money, not about space (there is space here for everyone) but about which piece of land has the best resources and thus the highest value – when I explained all this to her, she was even more angry. “I don’t understand,” she said, “why people can’t just get along and stop making war! Why can’t they understand that there is enough space for us all? Why can’t they see that everybody’s god is the same god?”

    Unfortunately, this is a lesson that many still have not understood. It is frightfully common where we live to hear people going on “missionary trips” to foreign countries, to “spread the word about God.” This is something for which I, personally, have very little tolerance. I always think to myself: Those people have their own god – they don’t need yours. There is no place, no culture on earth that is devoid of some sort of belief in a god or gods, and yet still these people feel it their duty to go out and brainwash or otherwise bribe others into adopting their beliefs. Maybe they should be taking trips to learn about the gods that others believe in instead. Just like that Catholic priest: maybe he should have been asking those Aztecs how to pray.

    1. Alexandra says:

      Dear Savita, thank you for reminding the sad destiny of the Native Americans. That is a dark face of the gleaming rich America. All what they have now is taken with force from the real owners. And still nowadays they are treated very badly, reservations are still there. And Obama is traveling the world for bringing the justice and peace…But in his own yard, he cant see clear. My country is not rich, but I am proud we never been a nation who attacked and took slaves.
      I am touched that you have so good ideas for educating your daughter, your treasure I guess.
      Take care

    2. marie-christine says:

      “We were born in a place that were meant for us, which will always keep us supplied with enough water so that when confronted with obstacles or depression we have the necessary patience or strength to move forward.”

    3. AllaSobirova says:

      i desperately need your advice to teach my son.

      also I am prepared for Christmas with Paulo Coelho.

  14. Marie says:

    Extrait du journal de bord de mon arrière grand-oncle, Jean-Baptiste, missionnaire, lors de son voyage vers les í®les Samoa entre 1910 et 1911.

    ” A un signal donné par le plus vénérable de la bande, ils exécutent avec entrain et dextérité un morceau de musique, puis ils récitent, sur un ton persuasif et résolu, une prière, ou ils louent le Grand Maí®tre de l’Univers ; Enfin, ils chantent un chant lugubre et plaintif et cela fait, ils se transportent dans un autre endroit oí¹ ils recommencent leur comédie. J’avoue que si je n’avais pas vu de mes propres yeux, j’aurais de la peine í  croire une chose semblable. C’est cependant la stricte vérité !
    En Australie, l’Armée du Salut est assez nombreuse et dans toutes les villes, ce sont des actes pareils qui se reproduisent tous les samedis soir et les dimanches. A voir les gens, qui après tout, ont l’air bon et honníªte, courir dans les cités et les bourgs pour se prosterner tíªte nue dans les rues et chanter des prières í  l’Eternel, on éprouve des impressions multiformes et imprécises. Pourquoi cette dévotion extérieure et exubérante ? Je suppose qu’ils font cela pour attirer l’attention et gagner des prosélytes. Peut-íªtre leur religion est-elle basée surtout sur l’immensité de Dieu ? Dieu est partout, Il est immense, Il est maí®tre de tout et donc, il faut l’adorer partout et toujours, dans les rues comme dans les temples.”

    Comme quoi, míªme cet extrait replacé dans le temps et l’espace dit bien que l’amour est hors du temps, des moeurs ou des langues. Il EST simplement.

    1. Merci Marie pour cet extrait partagé. J’aime quand il y a des écrits historiques authentiques!

  15. Annette says:

    It always dawns , even on the ruins of the Soul.

    We only felt the inertia , unwillingness to continue building.

    We only wish the anonymous pass of the days , because to fly would be more painful , perhaps more useless.

    Like the infantile sandcastles too much near to the Sea:

    -Imprudent crazy!.Why do you build your castle there?.The Sea will destroy it.

    -It doesn´t matter!-the laughter of the boy is stronger that the menacing roar of the last wave-I will make another bigger and more powerfull than this one.

    You so small in front the Sea…

    It so infinite , with all the wisdom of thousand of years under its waters…

    -Come on!.Come here-you shouted-I am not afraid!

    And white foam of many years ago shines in your eyes.

    It dawns…Cold in the Soul.

    We are looking for heat under the old rag of our heart.

    To follow or to stop forever.

    …But it always dawns and this is the best prayer that I know.

  16. Heart says:

    The Aztec’s answer in ‘By the river Piedra I sat down and wept’ is so simple and true. It’s all about listening and make God’s voice echo through us. For some years I have tried to pay attention to God’s humorous side. Here is what S/HE (Aditya’s formula) is telling me today. Look at this Russian icon, and tell me you don’t see the female aspects of God.

    In the playful part of my mind, this is Thelma, Annie and me sitting down for a chat in eternity. *joking*

    1. aditya says:

      Hi heart !

      thanks for keeping me in your thoughts and heart ! paulo has been influencing a generation of people with his simple parables like this. the highlight for me in this story ( old timers may have come across it earlier too, here ) is “”Beautiful prayer,” said the missionary. “But it is not exactly the prayer that God hears. I shall teach you a much better one.”” the missionary was not being honest when he said what he did, how did he know, just because one is elevated to a chair ( in this case that of a missionary ) does not mean one is qualified for it also. I hope, or sort of know that god listens to all that is said with honesty, sincereity ! language and releigion is of course no bar but religiousness is, even intent seems to be no bar


      annie, do u suppose a god who is not feminine is any god at all, now not all females are feminine, now a days there is a ‘cosnpiracy’ to remove feminity from females, by making them dress like men, making them act like men in board rooms and offices and worse by making them ambitious like men !


    2. Alexandra says:

      Hi Heart. How did you find it? Very beautiful. I think the old fashion for icons is more expressive ,and you icon prove that. So you want to be a holy woman?

  17. “And when you pray, do not be like those hypocrites who love doing long prayers standing up in synagogues or at the “carrefours” so to be seen by others. In truth, I say: They have received their “recompenses”. You, when you want to pray, go in that room, the most far away, close the door, lock it, and address your prayer to your Father who sees in the secret. And your Father who sees in the secret, will give. When you pray, do not “recitate” like the others. They think it is with a lot of words that they will receive. Do not be like them, because your Father knowns what you need before you ask”
    Matthew 6:5-8

  18. Brigit says:

    Powerful and meaningful post Paulo. A great reminder not to be self righteous. God hears beyond words, beyond names, beyond religion, something we should begin to learn.

  19. Gabriela Abalo says:

    It is so real. We spend a life fighting the differences with the conviction that we know better, without realizing that at the end we are the ones losing out.

  20. ksenija says:

    Really like this story!
    I believe that the human Spirit has no name,no year,no religion or language which used.
    Special no ego.
    It is possible this is the point where miracle is born.

  21. Alexandra says:

    I read this in your book. Lovely story. It shows so well that no one is the exclusive owner of a perfect unique language, or prayer . God reads our souls, dont need to hear a specific prayer.

  22. Maggie says:

    This is a beautiful story. I remember it from one of your books.

  23. sido says:

    April 2009: Easter in Lourdes

    I am in Lourdes this Easter, I came to collect me in prayer…and at this moment, I ask you: “Lord, and you, Mary, how can I pray better?” and I drop my head to pray, and I see next to my foot a dozen prayer(I read that name by searching the Internet, go home, a dozen: small beads …)
    So, since I keep my wrist and pray

    Avril 2009 : Pí¢ques í  Lourdes

    je suis í  Lourdes pour cette pí¢ques , je suis venue me recueillir …et en cet instant , je Te demande : ” Seigneur , et toi Marie , comment pourrai-je mieux prier ? ” et je baisse la tíªte pour prier , et je vois í  cí´té de mon pied une dizaine ( j’ai lu ce nom en cherchant sur internet ,en rentrant chez moi , une dizaine : petit chapelet …)
    Alors , depuis je le garde í  mon poignet et je prie

    1. Olivier à Nantes (France) says:

      Et j’étais í  tes cotés, fier de vivre avec celle que j’aime ces moments intenses du partage du feu symbole de renaissance Pascal. J’ai moi míªme utilisé un anneau de dizaine (une croix pour un notre père et la dizaine de “je vous salue Marie” ce samedi 6 Juin. Du plus loin que je me rappelle, tu es dans mon coeur sido. Tu le comprendras quand tu pourras me parler… Eo Gusto de Ti