The Power of Prayer
I grew up on Hail Marys and Baruch Atahs. Any sort of prayer or blessing was rote. Memorized like a multiplication timestable. Detached and a bit industrialized in feeling.
To be honest, it wasn’t until a few years ago I began to try out some actual conversations with the Divine. Talking as one might to a wise friend, a guide, or mentor. Through that process of befriending and chatting with God, I’ve begun to realize the power of prayer. And especially how it transcends any kind of man-made religion or doctrine.
In Sufism, mystics believe that the divine is in everything, and that to create a relationship with this God-source (universe/cosmic-mama/etc), one can identify the aspect of God he or she is most connected to, and interact with it as such. So God can be a best friend, or a lover, or a mother/father figure, or even a child.
I can remember how liberated I felt when I learned that perspective. And how, since then, through a bit of trial-and-error prayer has become far less foreign and far more comfortable.
In the past I used to believe the only real way to pray was when kneeling in a church pew or sitting in a Synagogue. But after a few initial fumbled and awkward attempts that felt more akin to Are you there, God? It’s me Margaret , I felt something shift. All of a sudden I realized there didn’t have to be a specific time, place, or way to pray. It could be organic, threading it’s way through the fabric of my life - when I’m cooking, when I’m walking Theo, even when I’m writing.
I believe prayer is our birthright, and whether we have a religion we feel deeply connected to or are more agnostic about the whole thing, there is an undeniable advantage to the energy of seeking higher guidance.
Maybe your prayers are to mother nature. Or the food you’re about to eat. Or a deceased ancestor. Or to your highest, most kind consciousness. Maybe they are to a father-figure God. Or a saint or angel.
I find the whole “to whom” aspect of a prayer is far less relevant than the intention and the actual practice. The opportunity to call in guidance, assistance, and aid from a kind and compassionate source when you need it most.
Prayer, like everything, is energy. And there is an energy in it that can connect us not only to something higher and purer than ourselves, but also to each other. Humankind is desperate for an authentic connection and I feel it can be established by prayer.
There is a yogic teaching that the most powerful current of prayer on the planet is that of a mother. And that we can ask our mothers (whether they’re still alive or not…whether we have a good relationship with them or not) to help us pray for certain things. And to make things better, there’s another teaching I love, that says when you pray for someone else, you receive a small percentage of that prayer back into your own life.
In this way we realize helping others always circles back to helping ourselves. As we are, after all, the part of the same species, all here on this planet circling around the sun together.
The problem with prayer for many of us is we thought it had to be more formal. Or we forgot about it altogether — at least I did for a while. But I’ve come to learn my life is far richer with the more continuous, even stream-of-consciousness conversational prayer with the Universe. An ongoing dialogue where prayers are often answered or signs are given in the most beautiful and unlikely of sources: like the books or poems I’m reading. Or conversations I have with other people. Or animals, or symbols I’ll see throughout the day.
We are always held and helped through the power of prayer. The question is, are we praying? And then more importantly, are we listening for that cosmic response?
If it’s been a while since you tried prayer, I highly recommend it. Break any “rules” you’ve been taught about what’s wrong or right when you pray. After all, it is your lifeline to more energy, more grace, and more liberation in the here and now.
And that, my friend, is a wonderful gift.
photography by Darden Creative