Prayer is about communication with the Divine. It is a method of Communion.
Communion is more about experiencing God, just being with our Divine nature and all that to which it connects us. Communion is yoga in the grander meaning of the word: it is about our Earth-bound souls joining with a greater Divinity. With Prayer, we may communicate Bliss, Gratitude, Humility or Devotion in order to get to Communion. Either way, there is no “small talk.” While in Communion, either through Prayer or by another means, Wisdom is gained. The Divine can discern all of our needs and grant the Wisdom that is germane to our particular situation. When we know what Communion can do for us, we tend to be more accepting of what may be occurring in our lives. Things can be left unsaid and we don’t need to order anything off the menu, so to speak. We are simply enjoying the view around us and letting life flow.
Communion is the ultimate Prayer. If we were in constant Communion, or just did it often enough, we wouldn’t need any other form of Prayer.
With Prayer, we go into communication with the Divine with a specific message. We may be soliciting feedback. We want to talk to God, the Divinity within us, and all that we are connected to in that way.
I like to say that we are all but a thread in the Divine fabric; we are both the thread and the fabric. With Prayer, we are talking to the thread and the fabric (ourselves and ourselves within the Divine) at the same time.
As a matter of further differentiation, Mantra is a communication directed towards our own mind in the hopes of guarding it from wandering and with the aim of reminding ourselves of our Truth when the world attempts to steer us away from it.
That which is Divine within can certainly hear our Mantras. The intention for a Mantra, however, is more mechanical (for lack of a better term) than for Prayer because Mantra’s first role is that of guarding the mind from “wanderlust” and maintaining focus in the present moment.
Prayer and Mantra can blend together in communicating with the Divine. A Prayer can be a Mantra and a Mantra can be a Prayer.
With Prayer, there is an intention of communication with Divinity that can serve any number of purposes: Devotion, Gratitude, Love, Faith, Courage, Humility, Acceptance, Joy, Peace, Respect, Empathy, Nurturance, Generosity, Justice and Healing just to name a few.
Prayer is often times thought of as the physical action of kneeling down, possibly in a church, and talking to God and maybe requesting something. We tend to pray more when we are suffering a loss, experiencing stressors of some kind, and/or when we feel the need for guidance. Sometimes we talk to God when we are mad or when we feel that life is unfair and, by association, that God is unfair.
The most common prayers are: “Help Me (or Help a Loved One),” “Forgive Me,” “Why Me?” and “Thank You.”
Some undervalued prayers include: “Please Help Me to Understand,” “Please Help Me to Accept,” “Please Let Me Heal,” “Please Help Me to Love/Forgive Myself,” “Please Bless All Others,” “Please Let Me/Loved Ones Hear Our Truth,” “Please Let Me Be of Service,” “I Am Humble Before You,” and “Thank You.”
Many Prayers are focused on the short term. Many Prayers are focused on lack.
Many people Pray with a request for certain outcomes. Many Prayers ask for “stuff:” material goods, opportunities, relationships, and so forth. When we Pray without expectation, we are allowing for the Wisdom of the Universe to be enacted. We allow for a bigger picture that may not be within our understanding at the moment. When we expect no specific “reward,” we are creating Energy of a more Divine nature. There is no attachment to an outcome and we create a greater receptivity to whatever Wisdom may be needed at the time.
Prayer as Creation and Transfer of Energy
One single thought or word can create Energy. An example of this principle is if a group of students enter a classroom and hear the phrase “Pop-Quiz!” It is a pretty safe bet that the Energy in the room is going to shift. Bodily sensations and mental thought processes will change almost instantaneously and the entire “vibe” of the classroom will probably become tenser.
This change may contain conflicting Energies if some of the students are prepared and others aren’t. Energies of both fear and confidence, along with others, might be created at the same time.
A pop-quiz is simply a fact of life for a student. Whatever the energetic result, the teacher more than likely decided to hold the quiz with the intent of helping her students grow and learn. Either way, for some students, the announcement will be well received and accepted. For others, the news will be met with resistance, anger and fear.
Communications back to the teacher about the quiz will reflect the emotions occurring and Energies created within each individual student. Responses from the ill-prepared students will be tainted by negative emotions but they will probably not stop the quiz from happening because, more than likely, the Energy these angry students put out will not outweigh the Energy of the teacher’s intent, i.e. that of the growth and learning that a pop quiz will create for the students.
When we Pray, most of the time, we seek to transfer the Energy of our thoughts and feelings to the Divine or into a Blessing to another person. When we are intentional in our Prayers, what we have to communicate is better transferred if it is of an Energy that is as close to Divine Energy as we can get. Being in a state of Gratitude, Humility, Love, Compassion or any of the other spiritual elements in this book can help achieve this goal.
When we Pray, we want to be cognizant of the Energy we are creating and the thoughts behind our words. If our Prayers are not of a high or Divine vibration, they will not “rise up,” so to speak, and, in fact, may serve purposes other than Divine communication, such as merely venting emotional energies. We can pray in any way─ sobbing, moaning, crying or gritting our teeth in anger. Some of that Prayer may indeed be about processing and moving emotions so that we create space to truly connect with God.
What If Our Prayers Go Unheard?
I do believe our Prayers are always heard but are best communicated if uncluttered with “lower level Energies.” At the same time, academically, I still like to wonder what purposes Prayer serves if it does actually go “unheard.” I recognize that Prayer serves to help us process and move emotions within our Body and psyche as well. As an act of emotional processing, this kind of communication does help in that it moves or transfers emotional Energy that would otherwise clutter or distort true communication with the Divine.
The root word of emotion is “motion.” Emotions need to move out of us eventually. If they don’t, anger, grief, jealousy and despair may stagnate within us and stay stuck there for years.
Prayer in these emotional states still helps because they are actually clearing the way for some true Prayer/Communication to eventually occur. We are purging and gaining Acceptance of whatever has occurred in preparation for real Prayer or Communion.
Any Prayer is a recognition of our Divine nature and the fact that we are connected to and able to communicate with the Divine, God, the Universe, etc. Any Prayer should be celebrated as a form of, or attempt at, Communion.
Like with any form of communication, our Prayers would be the most effective for ourselves and for true communion with the Divine if we prepare ourselves beforehand and take a moment to think about what we might be reflecting back and the Energy we are creating when we Pray. This type of prior planning requires work, self-reflection and the use of greater Equanimity. We may need to recognize that we need more Healing than we originally thought or it may become obvious that we just need to let emotions flow. Whatever the case, we may need to let go in some manner first in order to truly Pray.
What we say in Prayer can also be an indicator of what we are not accepting within ourselves or in a particular situation or where we need to apply our Healing work at the time.
Prayer begets action. It clears emotion, garners Acceptance and grounds us in our Divinity. In this state, we are clear headed. Answers as to what actions to take, if any, unfold, aided by our Divinity and/or Humanity.
If we think about Communion as the ultimate Prayer, then it makes sense that we would want to think about engaging in Prayer in a manner which supports Communion as often as possible. In this way, we can Pray from a higher place. It may be also true that for some people, a feeling of Communion with the Divine is not achieved during Prayer. There might be certain foundational prayers that support working towards Communion and can serve as stepping-stones to achieving Communion through Prayer.
In such kinds of Prayer, we are not asking for anything. From a place of as much Equanimity as we can foster, we can simply communicate our Love, Truth, Bliss and Gratitude while surrendering to Faith, Acceptance, Humility and Devotion. This takes Courage as well as the ability to open our hearts and simply Love God.
Pray and be in this manner as much as possible.
If in doubt about how to pray or what to pray about, remember that the most basic foundational Prayer is Gratitude. Pray with Gratitude if you don’t know what to say and do so no matter how hard this may be. When we pray with Gratitude to the Divine, we are grateful for life in general, despite hardships, and for the blessings we have or have had in the past, no matter how minor.
All of our actions communicate with the Divine. Our entire life can be lived as a Prayer for communicating the foundational elements discussed above and for being of Service to others.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘Thank you,’ that would suffice.”
For me, a Blessing is synonymous with a Prayer for others. We can ask or Pray for Blessings for ourselves, but in general, a Blessing is an act of giving. It is intended to bestow beneficial or appropriate outcomes for others. It is an act of Generosity and can be one of Compassion as well. We can live in a constant state of blessing others.
With a Blessing, you are sending your personal Energy of Divinity to somebody for loving purposes. By default, with this process, you are inviting collective Divine Energies to join forces with you in this endeavor.
A true Blessing has no strings attached and does not impose the blessing giver’s will or specific desired outcome. Rather, it puts out a desire that the best possible outcome come to that person who is being blessed according to their needs (and what Divinity has planned for them). The following are some examples of blessing “dos” and “don’ts”
-Blessings to Fred for what he most needs at this time.
– Blessings to Fred to be his highest and best self.
- Blessings to Fred to live his Truth.
-Blessings to Fred so that he is not such a jerk.
-Blessings to Fred to get the specific job he wants. (This imposes a specific outcome, and we don’t know if that job is part of his Truth.)
Do Blessings work? They certainly do for the giver of the blessing. When one’s Prayer becomes a Blessing, that person’s heart naturally opens to Love, Joy, Empathy and Generosity, amongst other elements. Yet we shouldn’t bless others for self-serving purposes; we should do so, I think, because it is part of our Divine nature and the constant flowing of Love through us. I believe that the recipient of a Blessing can detect and feel the Energy being directed their way at the subtlest levels of human sensory processes. On some level, they can just feel it, and this alone can have a profound effect in the external world.
Humility and Gratitude are the two most important and accessible spiritual elements to support Prayer. They open our hearts to Divine communication and defer to the Divine order.
Faith and Devotion further serve to open our hearts to communication to a higher power. Faith acts as an umbrella of trust and knowing of the Divine. Devotion is an ongoing Prayer of Love and Service in itself.
Freewill is key in directing our intention for Prayer and Blessings. Mindfulness tracks where our intentions may be directed at any one moment. With both of these elements, we nurture the Energy we are creating with it.
Equanimity provides a clear inner peace which allows for unmuddled Prayer. Solitude supports this.
Acceptance is an element that can negate the need for Prayer at times. Prayer in itself may contribute to Acceptance.
Healing salves wounds which may muddle or misdirect our Prayers.
Love can serve to drench and bless every Prayer.
- Pray in the simplest manner with no expectation or request, directing Energy towards the most basic spiritual elements of Gratitude and Humility.
- Be mindful of what energy you are creating or tranferring with your Prayers. Look at where your Prayers may be indicating areas of non-acceptance or areas where Healing needs to be directed.
- Write a letter to the Universe/God/Divinity expressing what is going on with you and your feelings about it. Do this on a regular basis if writing is your preferred method of expression. Compare letters over time to learn more about yourself and how you Pray/communicate with the Divine.
- Evaluate how your life is a Prayer or how it might be more so.
- Spread Blessings throughout your day. Get in the practice of Blessing everyone you meet, that you see or that you pass on the street. Hold no strings for your Blessings and have no expectations connected to the blessings you give, only that the person is blessed in a manner most beneficial to them whatever that may be. My favorite blessing for others is: “Let (him/her) Hear Their Truth.”
- Try the “Snooze Alarm Gratitude Prayer.” I set my snooze alarm for a 4-8 minute snooze interval upon arising in the morning. For the first alarm, I actually snooze. For the second round, I am awake and I contemplate/meditate solely on my humble gratitude to the Universe and for life’s blessings and lessons. For me, this starts the day on a very positive track. When I do this first thing in the morning, I find myself appreciative and accepting of whatever occurs throughout the day.
- Examine sacred texts and spiritual teachings as a matter of discerning “ready-made” prayers that resonate with you. Prayers are very personal and should convey heartfelt expression. On the other hand, repeating words that others have written and recited many times before can be powerful if they express your Truth as well. Creating your own “ready-made” prayer can be a very powerful exercise as well.
- Explore Mudras, which are specific yogic formations of the hands that can be applied in Prayer.
Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Some less common Prayers:
Please Help Me to Understand.
Please Help Me to Accept.
Please Let Me Heal.
Please Help Me to Love/Forgive Myself.
Please Bless All Others.
Please Let Me/Loved Ones Hear Our Truth.
Please Let Me Be of Service.
Rhyming and Easy-to-Remember Prayers:
“Thank you for the love you give.
Thank you for the life we live.”
“Thank you for my Blessin’s.
Thank you for my Lessons.”