Prayer takes us away from the self to a wider world beyond the physical, even if we don’t know who or what that can possibly mean. Many of us pray to something/someone/anyone who might hear us when we’re in trouble in the hope that we will be heard, that there is something true & right and good that overseas us, and overlooking our lesser selves, hears us when all else has failed, and saves the day just when we need it to. Often this is the only time that we fall into this state of grace, our hearts opening to a greater power. Sometimes prayers are answered, changing for ever relationships with the Divine. Other times it seems to people as though they are forgotten and that somehow their prayers are not heard. Yet I believe all prayers are heard when they come from a place of genuine need. This doesn’t mean that we necessarily get what we want, but it does mean that in our humility we become aware of our limitations, if only for a moment. It may be that what we are asking for isn’t the right thing for us, and possible reasons for this are too numerous to mention. The point is that if we develop a relationship with Source that includes prayer, then we set into motion a sacred wheel of communication.
When I was very small I prayed whole heartedly that my parents would stop arguing & that we could all be happy together. Yet the dis-harmony in our home simply got worse and worse, to the point where years passed, and when they finally parted ways, except for the pain it caused my mother, I no longer cared. Yet from the perspective of my adult self i.e. being someone who has more understanding of the lessons we mapped out for ourselves, I see that my upbringing, as chaotic as it was, was very likely the perfect environment for my soul to develop the empathy & skill set needed for this particular lifetime. Prayers are not spoken to manipulate those around us so that they fit into our lives the way we want them to. When we wish for something to manifest, it’s important to expect the unexpected. Our rational mind doesn’t have the capacity to know what’s really in our best interest as it can only see life from a third dimensional viewpoint, seeing what it needs now rather than the bigger picture which is far more expansive and not limited to the illusion of time.
When prayer comes from a deep place within us, our emotions become engaged, creating a powerful shift in our subconscious mind. But just as the river cannot stop itself cascading around the bend, our spirit must open to the blessing that presents itself in any given moment, and like the rushing water that flows wherever & however it finds itself, so too must we allow our hearts to be the receptors of change, not as we expect or decide it should be, but with a faith that is unwavering. Of course this is an ideal: to live externally in the now moment, is to be accepting of everyone, every thought and every experience, both good and bad. To have that level of faith means to live with absolute belief in the bigger picture, and what a relief to hand over all our fears to something higher than ourselves. Yet how often are we able to do this? All I can say is that it takes practice, and we have to forgive ourselves when we appear to fail. I can’t think of a single person who skims through life unscathed, a flawless model of perfection, though there may be some who like to give this impression, fearful of their vulnerability, lest it weakens them and they crumble.
To pray is to be vulnerable, to admit to not being perfect or knowing all the answers. It’s about emptying ourselves from the inside and saying, “Help me. I don’t know what to do or how on earth to get through this.” To be vulnerable is to have courage, and generally when we are desperate, we lose self-consciousness of how we look or sound. We simply connect authentically which has nothing to do with set prayers from a particular dogma or discipline. Some well known prayers are beautiful but not everyone can relate to them. I remember feeling unsafe in a particular property I was living, and I felt protected by saying the “twenty-third psalm” each night before I fell asleep. Not because I’d been taught that I must repeat it, but because the words resonate with my heart. Some of the pagan prayers are ritualistic & focus on the four directions, four elements and our relationship with the Goddess, the Divine Mother, as opposed to the patriarchal God of the Christian church, or rather the way He has been portrayed over time.
The Lebanese poet and writer, Kahlil Gibran in his book, “The Prophet”, speaks of prayer as a celebration. He writes that if we only pray from a place of lack, we will not be received. He encourages us to re-discover the forgotten place deep inside us, a place that is already abundant. Naturally we cannot always feel this fullness. But the book beautifully illustrates how we can choose to invite love into the different aspects of our every-day lives. Similar to Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian mystic & poet whose poems are so infused with ecstasy in his devotion for the Beloved, that his words leave us not only no room to doubt how completely we are loved by God, but how passionately we can feel this if we dare to. Each poem is really an individual sentiment of reverence for the God that he knows intimately through a life enriched with prayer. Yet his living, breathing dialogue with his God is joyful, playful and magnetic:
“Empty the glass of your desire so that you won’t be disgraced. Stop looking for someone out there and begin seeing within.”
Let us celebrate our existence even in the midst of such undeniable disturbance, because to be human is to be part of a tremendous adventure. It is a privilege that is easy to forget in the face of wars, hatred & separation. Now is a good time to pray for our salvation, not from a religious biblical model, but with the fervent hunger that is deserved of being alive on Mother Earth.